Microsoft balks at UK’s Daily Mail use of in refugee age controversy

Arif Bacchus

You may recall that in May of 2015 Microsoft introduced the website as a fun tool to show off the possibilities of Machine Learning. Unfortunately, in an article discussing the age of migrants, one UK-based publication labeled the website as a facial recognition tool, and Microsoft is not happy (via The Guardian.)

According to The Guardian, the issue first arose with The Daily Mail publishing an article which stated that the age of a photographed migrant, “was rated by a facial recognition program as having the features of a 38-year-old.” The article, however, was apparently originally published following comments from a Conservative MP for Monmouth, David Davies, who seemed to have suggested in a tweet that the age of minors is not properly represented in the media. Microsoft, nonetheless, put forward that was misused, and in a statement to The Guardian, said:

“ was designed to be an example of how developers could build a fun app using modern development practices. It is not intended to be used as a definitive assessment of age”

The migrant crisis remains a hot topic in the United Kingdom, and some in the Kingdom have come to question whether or not it appropriate or ethical to photograph the migrants coming from war-torn nations such as Syria and South Sudan. Other issues in regards to the migrant crisis include the fact that some politicians such as Davies himself, want to screen migrants to verify age by using dental tests. Groups such as the UN Refugee Agency, nonetheless, have labeled the Syrian migrant crisis, as the “biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time, … around the world.”