The dangers of removing facial recognition and artificial intelligence from DHS solutions (DHS ICR part four)

And here’s the fourth and final part of my repurposing exercise. See parts one, two, and three if you missed them.

This post is adapted from Bredemarket’s November 10, 2021 submitted comments on DHS-2021-0015-0005, Information Collection Request, Public Perceptions of Emerging Technology. As I concluded my request, I stated the following.

Of course, even the best efforts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not satisfy some members of the public. I anticipate that many of the respondents to this ICR will question the need to use biometrics to identify individuals, or even the need to identify individuals at all, believing that the societal costs outweigh the benefits.

By Banksy – One Nation Under CCTV, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3890275

But before undertaking such drastic action, the consequences of following these alternative paths must be considered.

Taking an example outside of the non-criminal travel interests of DHS, some people prefer to use human eyewitness identification rather than computerized facial recognition.

By Zhe Wang, Paul C. Quinn, James W. Tanaka, Xiaoyang Yu, Yu-Hao P. Sun, Jiangang Liu, Olivier Pascalis, Liezhong Ge and Kang Lee – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00559/full, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96233011

However, eyewitness identification itself has clear issues of bias. The Innocence Project has documented many cases in which eyewitness (mis)identification has resulted in wrongful criminal convictions which were later overturned by biometric evidence.

Archie Williams moments after his exoneration on March 21, 2019. Photo by Innocence Project New Orleans. From https://innocenceproject.org/fingerprint-database-match-establishes-archie-williams-innocence/

Mistaken eyewitness identifications contributed to approximately 69% of the more than 375 wrongful convictions in the United States overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence.

Inaccurate eyewitness identifications can confound investigations from the earliest stages. Critical time is lost while police are distracted from the real perpetrator, focusing instead on building the case against an innocent person.

Despite solid and growing proof of the inaccuracy of traditional eyewitness ID procedures – and the availability of simple measures to reform them – traditional eyewitness identifications remain among the most commonly used and compelling evidence brought against criminal defendants.”

Innocence Project, Eyewitness Identification Reform, https://innocenceproject.org/eyewitness-identification-reform/

For more information on eyewitness misidentification, see my November 24, 2020 post on Archie Williams (pictured above) and Uriah Courtney.

Do we really want to dump computerized artificial intelligence and facial recognition, only to end up with manual identification processes that are proven to be even worse?

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