Human rights organizations have encouraged Zoom, a video-conferencing startup, to abandon research into incorporating emotion detection capabilities into its products, claiming that the technology could violate users’ privacy and promote prejudice.
Rights groups have pushed Zoom to ban “spooky” AI technology
More than 25 rights organizations, including Access Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Muslim Justice League, wrote to Zoom Chief Executive Eric Yuan on Wednesday, claiming that the technology was erroneous and could jeopardize basic rights.
Last month, the technology newspaper Protocol reported that Zoom, based in California, was looking into developing such gadgets that would utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to scan facial movements and speech to make inferences about people’s moods.
“If Zoom advances with these plans, this feature will discriminate against people of certain ethnicities and people with disabilities, hardcoding stereotypes into millions of devices,” said Caitlin Seeley George, director of campaign and operations at Fight for the Future, a digital rights group.
Zoom Video Communications Inc emerged as a major video conferencing platform around the world during COVID-19 lockdowns as education and work shifted online, reporting more than 200 million daily users at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
“Beyond mining users for profit and allowing businesses to capitalize on them, this technology could take on far more sinister and punitive uses,” George said.
The company has already built tools that purport to analyze the sentiment of meetings based on text transcripts of video calls, and according to Protocol it also plans to explore more advanced emotion reading tools across its products.
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