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As body cameras get cheaper and the market gets more competitive, the largest supplier of law enforcement body cameras in the U.S., Axon, is turning to a new field: software. The company is exploring pairing its cameras with new AI capabilities — including real-time face recognition.
Axon, formerly known as TASER International, bundles its cameras with a suite of cloud storage and data management products that it licenses out to police forces on a subscription basis.
A coalition of civil rights groups in the US has urged Axon to exercise caution in deploying AI technologies and questioned ethical aspects. In an interview to radio.wpsu.org, the company’s CEO Rick Smith said the risks have to be checked. Today, an individual officer might have to make life-or-death decisions based only on their own perceptions and prejudices. “Do we think that computers getting information to those officers that could help them make better decisions would move the world in the right direction? I think the answer is unequivocally, yes, that could happen.”
One of the benefits of the new technology is that we’ll see biometrics, including facial recognition technology, that properly deployed with the right oversight over the coming decades could ultimately reduce prejudice in policing and help catch dangerous people in a way that, at the same time, respects police transparency and rights of privacy of the average citizen.
He added that when DNA was first being introduced, there was much concern about false positives and false matches. And yet ultimately, DNA technology has done more than any other key technology in exonerating people that were wrongfully convicted.