Issues of bias in facial recognition technology need further study, Notre Dame expert says


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  • newswise-fullscreen Issues of bias in facial recognition technology need further study, Notre Dame expert says

    Credit: University of Notre Dame

    Kevin Bowyer is an expert in biometrics, data mining, computer vision and ethics in computing at the University of Notre Dame.

Kevin Bowyer is an expert in biometrics, data mining, computer vision and ethics in computing at the University of Notre Dame.

In response to San Francisco’s ban of facial recognition technology software, Bowyer said companies interested in using the technology should exercise caution but says the issue of bias is something that requires further study.

“The best current technical analysis of current face recognition technology suggests that the technology has about equal ability to recognize African American persons as it does Caucasian persons, but also suggests that the technology is not as powerful at recognizing women as it is at recognizing men. The reasons why are not yet fully understood,” he said.

Bowyer recently co-authored a paper on the topic of bias in face recognition accuracy, working in collaboration with Michael C. King at the Florida Institute of Technology. His research and expertise have been used by federal agencies to obtain objective analysis of commercial biometrics technologies following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. With support from various government agencies, Bowyer has been working to develop iris recognition technology to more accurately identify potential threats. He is also the author of “Ethics and Computing: Living Responsibly in a Computerized World.” His paper “Face recognition technology and the security versus privacy tradeoff,” published in IEEE Technology and Society, received the Award of Excellence from the Society for Technical Communication, Philadelphia chapter.

Bowyer can be reached for comment at kwb@nd.edu.

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