Briefing: Facial recognition system mistakes bus ad for jaywalker in Ningbo

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Facial recognition snares China’s air con queen Dong Mingzhu for jaywalking, but it’s not what it seems–South China Morning Post

What happened: On Wednesday, an AI system on a Ningbo street designed to shame jaywalkers mistook a face on a passing bus for an errant pedestrian. The woman in the ad was Dong Mingzhu, chairman of AC manufacturing giant Gree Electric Appliances. Traffic police deleted the picture on the same day and vowed to upgrade the facial recognition system, while Gree responded calmly, thanking the police and reminding everyone to abide by traffic laws.

Why it’s important: Despite its deployment at border crossings, train stations, and some street intersections across China, facial recognition is still a developing technology. It’s also one that has previously shown bias depending on a person’s gender and race. Nevertheless, Ningbo is far from the only city attempting to use AI systems to make roads safer. Other large cities like Beijing and Shanghai use machine learning to identify rule-breaking drivers, while Shenzhen has deployed anti-jaywalking facial recognition systems at some intersections since last April. China has also previously touted the use of AI to catch criminal suspects at crowded public venues from a pop concert to a beer festival.