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Microsoft has said it will not sell its face recognition technology to the police. This decision was followed by the MSFT stock performance on Thursday.
The political and social terrain in the United States and across the world has been volatile for a couple of weeks since the death of George Floyd. George is an African American who was not lucky to survive the suffocation by a police officer who knelt on his neck for several minutes, The event has spiked protests across the United States and all over the world as people took to the street to lend their voice to the narrative that black lives matter. The death of George Floyd has also raised questions about the need to defund the police department starting from Minneapolis. This event has seen big tech corporations including Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) pulling their novel facial recognition technology from the police to avoid further unwarranted heating of the polity.
Twist in Microsoft Facial Recognition Technology
Microsoft corporation is one of the early developers of facial recognition technology. Representing another advance in artificial intelligence, the facial recognition technology can help to detect, identify, and analyze faces in images and videos. This technology can be used in several scenarios, for example, to authenticate people for access, count people in a space for crowd control, or garner crowd insights for media campaigns.
In its bid to integrate the technology, the Microsoft corporation began distributing the facial recognition technology with customers ranging from Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) to pic collage amongst others. Following the unrest in the United States, Microsoft corporation through its President Brad Smith spoke in a Washington Post live event said:
“We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology.”
This position by Microsoft Corporation follows other tech giants like Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) who made similar decisions earlier. Based on research, the face analysis was less accurate for people with darker skin tones, adding to activists’ warnings that false matches could lead to unjust arrests.
Implications for Microsoft
Following the decision, the company’s stock is spiraling downward, closing negatively at 5.37% with a stock price of $186.27. Analysts believe the initial temporary downturn will earn the company goodwill among the populace without sacrificing much business. This alone has the potential of rebounding the stocks in a short time.
Already today in the pre-market. MSFT stock is app. It has added 2.15% to reach $190.28. The current market cap is $1.41 trillion.