Unlikely Voter

Conservative views on polls, science, technology, and policy

Archive for May 25th, 2018

Protestors are urging Amazon to stop selling facial recognition technology to the government, but they’re missing the real problem here.

Amazon, being one of the big tech companies, has had good reason to invest large amounts of money in getting smart people to learn how to code new things. Sometimes the new technologies immediately bear fruit in useful business ways. Sometimes you have to find a way to make money off of them.

Amazon’s smart people worked on some facial recognition technology, and one way they found to make money off of it was to sell it to the government. Government loves this kind of technology.

Oddly, the reaction of ACLU and other interest groups is to protest Amazon selling this technology to the government. This is wrong. It’s wrong because it doesn’t solve the problem. If Amazon stops selling this technology, someone else will start. If you want government not to use this technology, the actual way to solve the problem is to change the law so government won’t use it.

It’s a legitimate point for society to debate, that facial recognition might be a technology too powerful for government to use. Creating databases of the movements of people may create dangers for people, when (not if) that database is broken into. The only winning move is not to play at all, so this argument goes.

It’s not Amazon’s fault that government will leap at the opportunity to do this, without considering the privacy, security, and moral dimensions to the decision. That’s the fault of elected officials, and the careerist staffers they manage. Go to the legislatures. Solve the problem for real.

Scapegoating a corporation is lazy and ineffective. Stop it.