IBM Will No Longer Sell Facial Recognition Services

Nathaniel Dahan Unsplash

Arvind Krishna, IBM CEO, announced that the company will no longer be selling facial recognition technology or services. This comes amid heated discussions on the implementation of facial recognition and whether it should be used at all. 

Arvind Krishna stipulated, in an open letter to CNBC, the support of the Justice in Policing Act and the fact that IBM will exit this controversial business. 

“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency. We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.”

Arvind Krishna IBM CEO

IBM is now focused on growing cloud services, on par with its competitors, Microsoft and Amazon, but also wants to remain active in the mainframe business. The shares of the company are up over one percent over the year, with a market capitalization of $135 billion.

To note, IBM’s facial recognition business did not generate significant contracts or revenue, which is very important for a technology giant that counts the U.S. government as a major customer. Seams like the conclusion was a business and an ethical one, IBM hearing, in the past few weeks, concerns from many constituencies, including employees, about its use of the technology, leading up to the withdrawal from the sector. 

“Artificial Intelligence is a powerful tool that can help law enforcement keep citizens safe. But vendors and users of Al systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularly when used in law enforcement, and that such bias testing is audited and reported,”

Arvind Krishna IBM CEO

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