As a technology industry leader with deep research and development roots, NEC is guided both by strong principles around scientific exploration, as well as the ethical implications of our projects.
I wrote recently that a brighter world “will never exist while systemic racism and other forms of social injustice continue to oppress the Black and other marginalized communities.”
Globally, NEC Corporation President & CEO Takashi Niino has stated previously that as a supplier of public safety technologies, we are committed to maintaining an open and broad dialogue with employees, customers, partners, citizens, civic leaders and our colleagues in government.
NEC is a company with developed core values, including AI & Human Rights Principles, and we are committed to helping to end racial injustice in our society. Our efforts to operationalize our values and AI & Human Rights Principles help us responsibly develop and sell biometric technologies, including face, iris, fingerprint, palm print, finger vein, and others.
Today in the United States, many law enforcement agencies use our technology as a tool for investigative decision-making and determining possible leads in a case. As noted by numerous legal experts and scholars, a match using facial recognition alone is not a means for positive identification. Additional police work is required.
Although current events have brought the topics of social justice, law enforcement and technology to the forefront of national discourse, NEC, through continued research and development, has long thought about the ways in which facial recognition algorithms can affect people of color. We have gone to great lengths to ensure our facial recognition algorithms are accurate across racial and other demographic groups.
For over a decade, our algorithms have ranked highest in accuracy in tests by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), widely considered a global authority on testing of biometric algorithms. Unlike many facial recognition algorithms that in last year’s NIST report, showed a pervasive problem with demographic disparity, NEC’s high-performing algorithm did not demonstrate this issue. As the matter of fact, our algorithm was singled out for being “on many measures, the most accurate algorithm we have ever tested.” This holds true across the diverse array of races and genders represented in the image test database.
This brings me to what NEC believes on the issues.
We believe it is possible to have compassion and actively work to improve conditions for America’s vibrant communities of color, while supporting our law enforcement customers and supporting reforms that encourage responsible use of our technology by law enforcement.
Furthermore, we believe that public safety agencies should responsibly use advanced facial recognition and other innovative technologies to help correct inherent biases, protect privacy and civil rights, and fairly and effectively conduct investigations for social justice.
On the topic of policy and regulation, we have and shall continue to support the development of legislation that provides and enhances existing guidelines for the responsible use of facial recognition technology.
We are dedicated to working with our law enforcement customers, the diverse communities they serve, and the policymakers who represent those diverse communities to find the best possible path forward. As we continue to work toward a brighter world, we plan to find ways to participate in ending systemic racism in America, and to use the best technology to do so.
President & CEO
NEC Corporation of America