On March 26, 2022, a violent assault occurred on a Maryland Transit Administration bus in suburban Baltimore. The attacker punched the feminine bus driver a number of occasions after an argument over COVID masking guidelines, then fled along with her cellular phone.
In keeping with a current New Yorker report, surveillance cameras captured pictures of the assailant. Transit police used these photos to create a Be on the Lookout bulletin distributed to legislation enforcement companies.
An analyst on the Harford County state’s legal professional’s workplace ran one surveillance picture by facial recognition software program. The algorithm matched Alonzo Cornelius Sawyer, a black man in his 50s from Abingdon, MD.
Sawyer was arrested days later whereas showing in courtroom for an unrelated case.
Police interrogated him and confirmed him the BOLO pictures, which he insisted weren’t of him — however they dismissed his claims after his probation officer, Arron Daugherty, positively recognized Sawyer because the attacker upon viewing the footage. Daugherty had solely met Sawyer briefly twice earlier than whereas Sawyer wore a masks.
Sawyer’s spouse, Carronne Jones-Sawyer, additionally adamantly denied the photographs confirmed her husband, citing bodily variations in age, construct, clothes and extra. She offered potential alibis, putting Sawyer away from the scene when the assault occurred. Nevertheless, detectives carried out no additional investigation to corroborate the facial recognition match.
AI racial bias
This case exemplifies the dangers of overreliance on AI instruments with out adequate requirements.
Racial bias leads facial recognition methods to misidentify individuals of coloration at a lot larger charges. The algorithmic match outweighed contradictory eyewitness testimony within the police investigation.
After a month in jail, prices had been dropped when Daugherty admitted doubts after assembly with Sawyer’s spouse. Using facial recognition was by no means disclosed to Sawyer. Neither he nor his spouse had been notified when one other man was ultimately arrested.
The story highlights issues about insufficient coaching in facial recognition, lack of corroboration, failure to reveal the usage of the expertise and affirmation bias, main police to dismiss contradictory proof.
Critics argue that facial recognition utilization ought to be banned or strictly restricted, given its potential for abuse and entrenching injustice with out oversight. Sawyer believes he would have falsely pleaded responsible with out his spouse’s intervention, exhibiting how the apply can allow overzealous prosecution.
As fast AI developments unfold, the general public wants safety in opposition to unproven applied sciences. Sawyer’s expertise underscores the pressing want for reform, transparency, and accountability to forestall extra wrongful arrests.
Featured Picture Credit score: Cottonbro Studio; Pexels; Thanks!