AMAZON SHAREHOLDERS (afternoon Mercedes) are to vote on whether to continue work on Rekognition, the controversial facial recognition software that the company has been developing.
The action, which is largely symbolic but nevertheless a vital barometer for the firm is being organised by a not-for-profit action group called Open MIC, which wants use of the system banned until it can be proven that it isn't going to contribute to the violation of human rights.
Activists warn that artificial intelligence led software could cause an endangerment to 'people of colour, immigrants and activists' in a particularly significant way.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the organisations leading the backlash against Amazon Rekognition performed tests in which it created matches between 28 members of Congress and faces of criminals in the database, also noting that the problem was particularly profound when people of colour are analysed.
Amazon, which has seen many of its own workers question the tech, responded that it wasn't being used properly and even warned that misuse would result in removal of instances from Amazon Web Services.
All this is made slightly awkward as Oregon's police department, which has access to Rekognition has stepped up to say "actually we don't use it properly either, then".
Yet, Amazon has already offered to hook up Rekognition tech with a manufacturer of body-cams, without checking if doing so would be legal in the territories affected. Amazon has since withdrawn that offer.
The concern isn't so much about what Rekognition is being used for, but what it could be used for - civil liberties are a two-sided coin and there's a big difference between using it to track, say, a known criminal, and an activist with no rap sheet.
Amazon and Microsoft both believe that governments should control how such technology is used, however, that raises more questions than it answers, such as "what if the government in question is China?".
Amazon has told its shareholders to vote against the ban, and as such, even a symbolic vote in favour would send a strong message to ol' Cue-Ball Bezos - though it's fairly likely that the Board will just ignore it and carry on regardless. μ
Now you can watch documentaries about horribly disfigured people whenever you like
Brad to the bone
Being in a minority of one doesn't make you right
WeWork needs a rework