Uber’s faulty facial recognition and police drones

Uber’s faulty facial recognition and police drones

Uber's faulty facial recognition and police drones

One evening in February last year, a 23-year-old Uber driver named Niradi Srikanth was about to start another shift, ferrying passengers around the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. He pointed the phone at his face to take a selfie to verify his identity. The process generally worked seamlessly. But this time he couldn’t connect.

Srikanth suspected it was because he had recently shaved his head. After further login attempts were rejected, Uber informed him that his account had been blocked. He is not alone. In a survey by MIT Technology Review of 150 Uber drivers nationwide, nearly half had been temporarily or permanently locked out of their accounts due to problems with their selfies.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian gig-economy workers are at the mercy of facial recognition technology, with few legal, policy or regulatory protections. For workers like Srikanth, getting blocked or kicked off a platform can have devastating consequences. Read the full story.

—Varsha Bansal

I met a police drone in VR and hated it

Police departments around the world are embracing drones, deploying them for everything from surveillance and intelligence gathering to hunting down criminals. Yet none of them seem to be trying to find out how drone encounters leave people feeling – or whether the technology will help or hinder police work.

A team from University College London and the London School of Economics is filling in the gaps, studying how people react when they encounter police drones in virtual reality and whether they come away more or less confident of the police.

Melissa Heikkilä of MIT Technology Review emerged from her encounter with a VR police drone, pissed. If others think the same, the big question is whether these drones are effective tools for law enforcement in the first place. Read the full story.

Melissa’s story is from The Algorithm, her weekly newsletter discussing AI and its effects on society. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.


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