US ‘develops’ AI-powered facial recognition tech for military robot drones

The United States Air Force has reportedly developed AI-powered facial recognition techechnolgy (FTR) for autonomous drones.

The drones will be used by special operations personnel for missions overseas and for gathering intelligence and other operations, according to a contract between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Seattle-based company RealNetworks.

“The U.S. Air Force has completed a project to develop face recognition software for autonomous drones, sparking concerns that individuals could be targeted and killed,” New Scientist reported on Wednesday.

The contract between the Department of Defense and RealNetworks is worth $800,000 and allows drones to fly autonomously with little to no human assistance, while the software uses machine learning (ML) techniques to identify faces.

According to RealNetworks, the technology may potentially be utilized for perimeter security, domestic search operations, and rescue missions.

The drones are to be tasked with expeditionary roles, including special operations, to “open the opportunity for real-time autonomous response by the robot,” said the report.

US is not the only one employing facial recognition
The U.S. military is not the only one to employ facial recognition technology.

U.N. claimed earlier that Libyan troops had equipped drones with weapons and facial recognition software in 2021.

In order to find reckless drivers, the Dubai police have been employing drones using facial recognition technology for quite some time now. China has been using FTR for a long now.

Meanwhile, privacy advocates in the U.S. have opposed the use of facial recognition technology by the police.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has cautioned against employing the technology on drones, and the Portland City Council has enacted one of the nation’s harshest bans on it.

The use of facial recognition technology by the government was outlawed in San Francisco for the first time in 2019; Oakland and Berkeley swiftly followed.

Vermont was the first state to outlaw the use of government FRT last year. But, government personnel may use it on drone footage with a warrant, and facial recognition software that aids in human trafficking and child sex exploitation is exempt.

Despite the fact that Congress has not yet passed a federal regulation governing facial recognition technology, there are suggestions to do so.

Worries of targetted assassinations
Automated weapons are gaining more and more attention as they become a common component of military hardware.

Drones eliminate the important human element from deploying lethal force, according to some military experts who claim they cut losses by putting fewer soldiers in danger.

Yet, there are worries that this new technology could be used to target specific people for assassination.

There are significant questions concerning the morality and legality of using face recognition technology on military drones, noted the New Scientist report.

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