CCTV cameras. Illustrative photo.
CCTV cameras. Illustrative photo. (FREDERIC SCHEIBER / HANS LUCAS)

Footballer Antoine Griezmann decided on Thursday to break his commercial contract with the Chinese brand Huawei. The electronics giant has reportedly helped develop facial recognition technologies to identify oppressed Uyghur populations.

It was an independent American organization specializing in the analysis of video surveillance systems around the world, IPVM, which released the case published by the Washington post. According to IPVM, the Chinese firm Huawei would have collaborated in 2018 with another Chinese company, Megvii, specializing in facial recognition. It would have developed a function called “Uyghur alert” with the aim of automatically warning the police if Uyghurs were detected by the millions of surveillance cameras present in China.

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Huawei France said in a statement that it was not itself the origin of this technology and that it only provided storage for video images in its computer cloud. The two companies also claim that the infamous “Uyghur Alert” was only a test and that the feature was never put into use.

Ethnic facial recognition is a reality. For example, in the United States, cosmetics brand Revlon uses it to analyze makeup tastes based on origins. She used, according to the Wall Street Journal, a solution developed by an American company called Kairos to analyze millions of photos posted on Instagram and see what type of lipstick black women prefer, white women.

Ethnic recognition is a subdomain of what is called “facial analysis“. That is, the use of artificial intelligence to determine parameters such as gender, age, emotion felt at a certain time or ethnicity. This is starting to be used a lot in advertising, especially to send targeted advertisements. However, this raises questions, for example, whether these elements were for deciding the granting of mortgage loans or for hiring in companies.

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This is the whole question of ethics in artificial intelligence, which reminds us that technologies exist and that everything depends on the applications that are made of them.