Sten Vesterli's Blog

Bad Face Recognition

In the U.S., police have started rounding up suspects based on defective image recognition from grainy surveillance video. Image recognition is known to work poorly on black faces, probably because they were mainly trained on images of white people.

When we roll out new technology, we of carefully explain to the users where and how it can be used. But if we can reasonably expect our users to ignore our admonitions, maybe we shouldn’t sell it at all.

Doing the Right Thing

Last week’s episode of my podcast Beneficial Intelligence was about doing the right thing. Google used to say “Don’t be evil,” but now they are struggling with their employees who want them to do the right thing. Amazon is unpopular for squeezing warehouse workers, and McKinsey paid $600 million for the role their advice played in the opioid epidemic in the U.S. They could have done the right thing, but didn’t.

As CIO, you also constantly have opportunities to cut corners and squeeze employees to work a little harder. But if you want to attract and retain top talent, you need to do the right thing. 

Doing the Right Thing

This week’s episode of my podcast Beneficial Intelligence is about doing the right thing. Google started out with a motto of “Don’t be evil” but that has fallen by the wayside. Occasionally, employees can enforce a change as when they stopped working on military AI. But Google doesn’t seem terribly committed, and their Ethical AI Team is falling apart after they fired the head researcher.

Amazon never promised not to be evil, and they are forcing their delivery drivers to do 10-hour graveyard shifts starting before sunrise and going until mid-day. They are trying to avoid tired drivers causing accidents by installing cameras and AI in the vans so the computer can detect when the worker is falling asleep behind the wheel and can wake him up.

As a CIO, you’re engaged in a war for talent. But you also need to meet your budget, implement hot new technologies like AI and maintain IT security. There is always an opportunity to cut a corner, roll out inadequately tested technology or squeeze employees so you can hit your goals this quarter. But if you want to be able to attract and keep top IT talent, you need to do the right thing.

Listen here or find “Beneficial Intelligence” wherever you get your podcasts.