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CNBC reports that Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos said yesterday that "the company’s public policy team is working on proposed regulations around facial recognition, a fledgling technology that has drawn criticism of the technology giant’s cloud computing unit." The goal is to come up with proposed regulations that could be communicated to the federal government, which could then adapt and/or adopt them.

Bezos said that it "makes perfect sense" to regulate facial recognition technology: "It’s a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don’t want to put the brakes on it. At the same time, there’s lots of potential for abuses with that kind of technology, and so you do want regulations."

According to the story, "Amazon has faced more criticism than rivals in part because it has marketed the technology to police, and it has defended its practices. The company has said all users of its service, known as Rekognition, must follow the law.

"The growing interest in regulation underscores discontent in the United States over the technology, which government agencies have used for years and now has become more powerful with the rise of cloud computing and artificial intelligence technologies. San Francisco and Oakland voted this year to ban city personnel from using it."

• Amazon yesterday announced "the Voice Interoperability Initiative, a new program to ensure voice-enabled products provide customers with choice and flexibility through multiple, interoperable voice services. The initiative is built around a shared belief that voice services should work seamlessly alongside one another on a single device, and that voice-enabled products should be designed to support multiple simultaneous wake words.

According to the announcement, the Voice Interoperability Initiative is built around four priorities: "Developing voice services that can work seamlessly with others, while protecting the privacy and security of customers … Building voice-enabled devices that promote choice and flexibility through multiple, simultaneous wake words … Releasing technologies and solutions that make it easier to integrate multiple voice services on a single product … (and) Accelerating machine learning and conversational AI research to improve the breadth, quality and interoperability of voice services."

The announcement says that "more than 30 companies are supporting the effort, including global brands like Amazon, Baidu, BMW, Bose, Cerence, ecobee, Harman, Logitech, Microsoft, Salesforce, Sonos, Sound United, Sony Audio Group, Spotify and Tencent; telecommunications operators like Free, Orange, SFR and Verizon; hardware solutions providers like Amlogic, InnoMedia, Intel, MediaTek, NXP Semiconductors, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., SGW Global and Tonly; and systems integrators like CommScope, DiscVision, Libre, Linkplay, MyBox, Sagemcom, StreamUnlimited and Sugr."

Not involved, interestingly enough, are Apple and Google … and while interoperability is to be applauded, the "inter" has some limitations if those two companies aren't involved. This sounds like it has a lot of similarities to the Open Voice Network; MNB had an interview this summer with its founder, Jon Stine, that you can read here.
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