The Face in the Machine: Facial Recognition Application in Government

When your grandma is using her face to unlock her iPhone, you know a technology has gone mainstream. Facial Recognition "is a biometric software application capable of uniquely identifying or verifying a person by comparing and analyzing patterns based on the person's facial contours." In the last four years, there has been a jump in the use of the technology as vendors have begun to use convolutional neural networks (CNN), a deep learning methodology and algorithms, for model training. A National Institute of Standards and Technology test of vendors in 2018 showed a 95% reduction in error rate compared to a similar test completed in 2014. Applications of facial recognition in government include security (access to devices, data, and physical locations), law enforcement (matching video footage of a crime to a database of suspects), and identity verification for travel.

While the technology has come a long way, many argue it still has a way to go before it can be used widely in areas as critical as criminal justice and security. There are calls for regulation by the FTC and other federal entities. While there are accuracy benchmarks that vendors must pass to be used in government, in many cases, the groups used in benchmarks are not as diverse as those that the system will interact with once fielded. Regulation proponents argue that much of the facial recognition technology was designed with the majority of subjects being white males. When the system faces (pun intended) women with dark skin, the accuracy they promise plummets significantly.

With these challenges both in technology and policy, there are a number of events to help sort out the next steps in introducing facial recognition.

  • Think Gov 2019 ( March 13-14, 2019; Washington, DC) - With a tagline of "Technology for a Smarter Government," this event brings together speakers from the public and private sectors who will share their perspective on everything from AI to blockchain, cloud to data, and security to systems.
  • The AI Summit: Cybersecurity and National Defense (March 29, 2019; Washington, DC) - Organized by a group called Suits and Spooks, this event brings together intelligence and DoD officials with private sector technologists to discuss the latest in AI and Machine Learning. A key topic of this year's event is "How do you identify and eliminate gender bias in AI programming?"
  • Connect:ID 2019 (April 29-May 1, 2019; Washington, DC) - Organized by the Science Media Partners and the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA), this event is focused on identity technologies and the opportunities for their management in both the physical and digital worlds. Speakers include thought leaders and end users sharing cutting-edge revelations, future insights, and case histories.
  • Deep Learning Summit Boston (May 23-24, 2019; Boston, MA) -- Discover advances in deep learning & smart artificial intelligence from the world's leading innovators. Industry experts & academics in speech & image recognition, neural networks & big data will share insights and experiences.
  • Identity Week 2019 (June 11-13, 2019; London, UK) - This international event brings together 3,000+ attendees across three SDW 2019 delivers in-depth analysis of document design and fraud detection, intelligent border control techniques and more. Planet Biometrics 2019 explores the critical role biometrics can play in secure and seamless transactions and services for government and citizens. Digital:ID 2019 aims to advance innovation in all stages of the digital identity lifecycle and help to create a safer world through the effective application of digital identity technology.

Let us know if there are other events that are tackling the complexities of facial recognition.

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