The Major Concerns Around Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition software has become increasingly popular in the past several years. It is used everywhere from airports, venues, shopping centers and even by law enforcement. While there are a few potential benefits to using the technology to prevent and solve crimes, there are many concerns about the privacy, safety and legislation regarding the use of the technology.

Facial recognition technology uses a database of photos, such as mugshots and driver’s license photos to identify people in security photos and videos. It uses biometrics to map facial features and help verify identity through key features of the face. The most key feature is the geometry of a face such as the distance between a person’s eyes and the distance from their forehead to their chin.

This then creates what is called a “facial signature.” It is a mathematical formula that is then compared to a database of known faces. The market for this technology is growing exponentially. According to a research report “Facial Recognition Market” by Component, the facial recognition industry is expected to grow $3.2 billion in 2019 to $7.0 billion by 2024 in the U.S. The most significant uses for the technology being for surveillance and marketing. This, however, raises concerns for many people.

The main reason for concerns amongst citizens is the lack of federal regulations surrounding the use of facial recognition technology. Many are worried about how accurate the technology is and if there are biases and misinformation in these technologies. One issue, for example, is that the technology has been proven in multiple studies to be inaccurate at identifying people of color, especially black women.

Another major concern is the use of facial recognition for law enforcement purposes. Today, many police departments in the U.S., including New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Orlando, have begun utilizing the technology. According to a May 2018 report, the FBI has access to 412 million facial images for searches.

Not only is this a concern with the possibility of misidentifying someone and leading to wrongful convictions, it can also be very damaging to our society by being abused by law enforcement for things like constant surveillance of the public. Currently, the Chinese government is already using facial recognition to arrest jaywalkers and other petty crimes that cause debate amongst what is considered basic civil rights and privacy issues versus protecting the public.

Accuracy and accountability are necessary when it comes to the use of technology, especially regarding the justice system. The concerns have not gone unnoticed by politicians and many cities have started to create legislation around these issues. Oregon and New Hampshire have banned the use of facial recognition in body cameras for police officers. California cities, such as San Francisco and Oakland, and some cities in Massachusetts have outlawed certain uses of facial recognition technology for city officials including law enforcement.

The Utah Department of Public Safety has also put forth some bans on the use of facial recognition for active criminal cases. Law enforcement in Utah claim that the use of facial recognition software helps keep dangerous criminals off the streets, but advocates say that there is no checks and balances when it comes to the system. Recent pushes from Portland, Oregon show that they are soon to follow suit.

The latest legislation push to put limitations on facial recognition technology is a California bill, AB 1215, also referred to as the Body Camera Accountability Act. This bill will temporarily stop California law enforcement from adding face and other biometric surveillance technology to officer-worn body cameras for use against the public in California.

According to the ACLU of Southern California, “AB 1215 is a common-sense bill that rightly concludes that keeping our communities safe doesn’t have to come at the expense of our fundamental freedoms. We should all be able to safely live our lives without being watched and targeted by the government.”

Governor Gavin Newsom must decide whether or not to sign it into law by October 13. If he does, it will go into effect in January. Law enforcement isn’t the only issue with the technology that is of concern. U.S. Customs and Border Protection in partnership with Delta have added facial scanning to the Atlanta airport’s Concourse E, its Detroit hub, boarding gates in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, and this month to Los Angeles International Airport.

The use of this technology causes concerns about how much people are being watched and if hackers can access this data causing more harm than good. “Facial recognition really doesn’t have a place in society,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “It’s deeply invasive, and from our perspective, the potential harm to society and human liberties far outweigh the potential benefits.”

With the vast number of concerns and privacy issues surrounding facial recognition software and its use, cities around the U.S. will face more dilemmas as they attempt to tackle these issues. AI and facial recognition technology are only growing and they can be powerful and helpful tools when used correctly, but can also cause harm with privacy and security issues. Lawmakers will have to balance this and determine when and how facial technology will be utilized and monitor the use, or in some cases abuse, of the technology.

Nicole Martin is the owner of NR Digital Consulting and host of Talk Digital To Me Podcast. She has worked in many different industries on customer journeys, website management, social

Source: The Major Concerns Around Facial Recognition Technology

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Two Friends Who Met On Twitter In High School Are Latest Under-30 Billionaires

Brex’s two twenty-something founders are now billionaires, thanks to a lofty new funding round announced this week that nearly doubled the valuation of their five-year-old fintech firm.

The San Francisco-based startup—which is aiming to overhaul the corporate credit card—confirmed on Tuesday that it has raised $300 million in a funding round led by investment firms Greenoaks Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), giving it a $12.3 billion valuation—a sizable jump from the $7.4 billion valuation it fetched just nine months ago.

Cofounders (and co-CEOs) Henrique Dubugras, 26, and Pedro Franceschi, 25, each hold a 14% stake in Brex, Forbes estimates, worth about $1.5 billion apiece. (Forbes discounts the value of privately held companies.) The pair declined to comment on Forbes’ estimates but Dubugras did speak with Forbes about his startup’s path to success.

The young fintech has made a name for itself with a corporate credit card tailored to the needs of startups. It remains Brex’s marquee product, and the interchange fees merchants pay when employees swipe Brex’s cards constitute nearly all of the company’s revenue.

In recent years, Brex has also launched new software offerings like an expense management product and a business bill pay feature: “If you get an invoice in your email, you can just forward it to us and boom, it gets paid,” Dubugras tells Forbes on a Zoom call from his home office in Los Angeles. In May, the company rolled out one of the first crypto rewards programs for corporations.

Brex is not the only business attempting to disrupt the stodgy, spreadsheet-centric world of B2B payments. Today, its rivals include startup Ramp (founded in 2019 and valued at almost $4 billion after an August funding round) and publicly traded Bill.com (valued at some $21 billion), which bought expense reporting software fintech Divvy for $2.5 billion last spring.

But Brex has been able to attract a deluge of venture capital by offering a suite of products that extend beyond the corporate credit card. Dubugras maintains that he’s not too worried about competition.  “The market is pretty big, and I think that there’s space for a lot of people,” he says. “Most B2B payments are still paper- and check-based.”

The 1,000-person startup can credit its existence to a lively Twitter exchange in December 2012 between Dubugras and Franceschi about the nuances of coding tools. At the time, they were high school seniors living in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, respectively. The 140-character tweet cap hindered the debate, so the two teens hopped on Skype to discuss further.

“On Skype, we couldn’t fight that much and became best friends,” says Dubugras.

In 2013, the pals launched a startup called Pagar.me that allowed Brazilian merchants to accept online payments. It was a 150-person outfit by the time they sold it three years later to a larger Brazil-based payments fintech called Stone. Dubugras won’t share the pair’s take, but says it was enough to pay for college—he and Franceschi are both Stanford computer science dropouts—and stow away some savings.

For their next act, the pair initially wanted to build bank accounts for U.S.-based startups, but settled on corporate credit cards as a more attainable route. (“What business would trust their money to these random 22-year-old Brazilians?” chuckles Dubugras. “With corporate cards…

We were giving them money instead of asking for their own money.”) Dubugras and Franceschi founded Brex in 2017 after quitting Stanford in the spring of their freshman year and, two years later, both earned spots on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Finance list. By then, Brex had raised $213 million and was valued at $1.1 billion. In 2019, Brex also rolled out its take on the business bank accounts that had enthralled its founders from the start.

(Brex is not a chartered bank itself, so it partners with LendingClub or JPMorgan Chase for the accounts.) All told, the duo has secured more than $1.1 billion in venture money from the likes of Tiger Global Management, Peter Thiel and Affirm founder Max Levchin.

The company says its revenue more than doubled over the past 12 months, though it won’t share specifics or comment on profitability; private markets data provider PitchBook estimates Brex generated about $320 million in revenue for 2021. Dubugras says that Brex counts “tens of thousands” of corporate customers today, including the likes of Carta and Classpass.

The startup wants to keep the ball rolling in the new year. With $300 million in fresh funding, Brex aims to increase its headcount by at least 50% while also keeping cash in the coffers in case there’s a market downturn. Brex originally set out to serve startups, but Dubugras says mid-market firms account for more than 60% of its customer base today. In 2022, he hopes to reel in large corporations as well.

“I think it’s easy for people to think that we’re already successful,” he says. “We are, and we aren’t. We’re obviously happy about what we’ve achieved, but there’s so much more to come.”

I’m a reporter on Forbes’ wealth team covering the world’s richest people and tracking their fortunes. I was previously an assistant editor for Forbes’ Money & Markets section…

Source: Two Friends Who Met On Twitter In High School Are Latest Under-30 Billionaires

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Critics on BREX:

Brex is a financial technology company that primarily offers a corporate credit card to early-stage companies. Furthermore, business owners can also create a bank account (called Brex Cash) and utilize the company’s various expense management tools for their business.

Brex makes money through a monthly account subscription, interchange fees, referral fees from cashback rewards, interest on loans, as well as interest on cash held in its customer accounts.

When you think of the most rewarding small-business credit cards, you might assume that you’ll need to shell out a sizable fee each year for the ability to rack up bonus points. The Brex Card, however, proves that assumption incorrect.

The Brex Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, and no personal guarantees or credit checks are required to be approved. Plus, new cardholders can earn 50,000 signup bonus points after spending $9,000+ in the first 30 days.

The Brex Card still packs a generous reward structure, which can be tailored to pay out more based on the type of business you run. Here’s a look at a standard rundown of earning potential:

  • 8x on ride-sharing spending
  • 5x on travel booked through the Brex portal
  • 4x at restaurants
  • 3x on eligible Apple purchases made through the Brex portal
  • 1.5x on advertising
  • 1x on all other purchases

There are a few key caveats to the rewards structure. Let’s start with the most important piece of the puzzle: You have to use the Brex Card exclusively to get in on all those bonus opportunities. After two months, you have to “ensure card exclusivity,” which I assume you do by linking your other bank accounts.

If you’re using other small-business credit cards, your rewards dip to a measly 1 point per dollar, plus 3x for eligible Apple purchases — a rewards structure not worth celebrating. So, this credit card is only for business owners who aren’t afraid of a serious commitment and who are willing to break up with their other cards.

Read more: The best small-business crypto cards in 2021

Now, if you can make it your exclusive card, Brex offers some additional options to make the card more rewarding based on your spending routine. For example, if your company calls itself a tech company, you’ll earn 3x on recurring software purchases. If your company works in the life sciences, your highest payout — 8x — comes on conference tickets. So, if five of your employees are registering for that big annual meeting on biomedicine with a fee of $2,000 per ticket, that payout can come in handy. You’ll also learn 2x on lab supplies.

Another big differentiator is that Brex rewards you more if you pay your bill on a daily basis, similar to a debit card. To do that, you deposit money into a Brex cash account, and each day, your bill is automatically paid from those funds. If you pay your bill on a monthly basis, your rewards are a bit less: The highest payout is 7x.

And finally, Brex can claim a first in the business credit card space: You can redeem your rewards in cryptocurrency. The company recently announced that cardholders can enjoy redemption conversions in Bitcoin and Ethereum, which sets it apart from every other business credit card offer you’ll find right now. If you’re looking to dabble in crypto (and you aren’t afraid of Elon Musk’s Twitter account impacting the value of your points), this is a low-risk way to do it. 

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5 Tiny But Impactful ‘Microaffirmations’ To Make Everyone on Your Team Feel Valued and Included

When it comes to making sure colleagues from different backgrounds feel comfortable at work, tiny things really do matter. We often hear about how “microaggressions” like always expecting female employees to organize birthday cards or questioning non-white colleagues about “where they’re from” can alienate, exhaust, and distract people at work.

But the opposite is also true. Even small actions and moments of thoughtfulness can make people feel welcome, valued, and included. New research out of the University of Kansas, for instance, found simply having male allies who spoke positively about gender equality helped make women working in unbalanced tech and science fields feel more supported.

Microaggressions matter, but so too do “microaffirmations.” These “are little ways that you can affirm someone’s identity; recognize and validate their experience and expertise; build confidence; develop trust; foster belonging; and support someone in their career,” according to Change Catalyst CEO Melinda Briana Epler, who has worked on diversity issues for 25 years.

Microaffirmations cost nothing and take mere seconds but can make a big difference to how well your company lives up to its ideals (and attracts and retains diverse talent). In a recent TED Ideas post, Epler laid out 13 of them, but here are five to get you started.

1. Mirror the language that someone uses to describe their own identity.

Can the fast-changing rules about the “right” words to use around sensitive subjects and identity markers seem confusing sometimes? Sure, but there’s an easy solution that doesn’t require keeping up with complicated theories or ever-changing debates. Just talk about people the way they talk about themselves.

“Listen and learn how someone pronounces their name, describes their identity and uses their pronouns. Then mirror the language they use to describe themselves — it shows them you’re paying attention and that you care about them,” instructs Epler.

2. Acknowledge important holidays and life milestones.

Not everyone in your office may celebrate the same holidays or tick through the same life milestones. But everyone you work with deserves to have the biggest occasions in their lives recognized by their colleagues.

“Keep an eye out for key moments that might be important in someone’s life, and recognize them. You might wish them a lovely Diwali if they celebrate it,” Epler offers as an example of a long list of potentially relevant occasions including Juneteenth, Ramadan, Yom Kippur, Pride Month, etc.

3. When someone isn’t participating, take notice and support them.

It’s easy to write off someone who is quiet in meetings or brainstorming sessions as simply short of courage or ideas, but if you do so, you’ll likely miss out on both valuable insights as well as a chance to bring out the best in your people.

“A person who is feeling marginalized or excluded, tokenized or like an impostor may sideline themselves — by not speaking up, not contributing, not showing up. In the remote workplace, people may turn off their video because they aren’t engaged, don’t have a home environment they want to show on video, feel excluded, or are burned out from inequities and exclusion. Check in with them, and see if and how you can support them,” advises Epler.

4. Invite someone to speak and share their expertise.

If you’re invited to speak on an all-white guy panel or notice a certain sameness in who gets chosen for the big presentations around your office, fixing that lack of diversity isn’t just in the hands of the organizers. Epler urges those with clout to help push forward underrecognized talent in their professional circles.

“If you’ve been invited to give a speech or presentation, ask if you can bring an expert colleague with you to the stage, or consider stepping back and recommending someone who isn’t often asked to speak,” she suggests, adding that “if you’re asking someone to share their expertise at a corporate event or at an event that makes a profit, make sure they are paid equitably for their expertise.”

5. Provide both positive feedback and constructive criticism.

Studies show that women in particular are often give only “nice” feedback that ignores areas for improvement and robs them of opportunities to learn and grow. So be cognizant of your constructive criticism and make sure you’re not shying away from sometimes awkward but ultimately beneficial conversations with certain members of your team.

On the other hand, Epler reminds bosses to also remember to mix praise for what’s positive in with notes on what to work on. “When I was in film school working with actors, one of my directing teachers taught us that you should always give an actor two to three pieces of specific positive feedback before providing negative or constructive feedback. It can make a big difference in their next performance,” she writes.

Author image for Jessica Stillman

Source: 5 Tiny but Impactful ‘Microaffirmations’ to Make Everyone on Your Team Feel Valued and Included | Inc.com

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Investors Buy Oil on Inflation Fears, Pushing Prices Even Higher

Luc Filip doesn’t work at a big energy company or an industrial manufacturer. He isn’t a day trader or an OPEC official. But he is still helping drive the surge in oil prices.

Mr. Filip is head of investments at SYZ Private Banking in Switzerland, and his big concern is inflation taking a bite out of the $28.5 billion of clients’ investments he manages. So he has been buying oil.

Fund managers like Mr. Filip are contributing to a rally that has pushed oil prices to their highest level since the 2014 energy bust. While energy-futures markets are more typically the province of producers and commodities-focused hedge funds, an oil rally that shows no signs of slowing is now exerting a pull on traditional money managers who run portfolios of stocks and bonds.

Because commodities prices tend to rise alongside inflation, they can protect investment portfolios against its erosive effects. When combined with other commodities like copper and gold, energy is “quite a decent hedge,” said Mr. Filip, who has been buying energy futures and selling longer-dated bonds that will lose value if inflation turns out to be high for longer than expected.

To be sure, inflation fears aren’t the main driver of the West Texas benchmark’s run from $62 a barrel in August to $85 this week. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has stuck to its plan to increase production in small increments. A shortage of natural gas has caused some industrial manufacturers to switch to diesel, which is refined from oil.

Untangling these inputs is hard. But traders and analysts say that some of the recent oil gains could be explained by inflation worries, especially on days with no news about supply that might drive trading by the usual players such as commodities brokers and oil producers.

What the Inflation of the 1970s Can Teach Us Today. The U.S. inflation rate reached a 13-year high recently, triggering a debate about whether the country is entering an inflationary period similar to the 1970s.

In one sign of investors’ interest, money has been pouring into funds that buy energy futures and stocks, accelerating just as inflation fears took center stage this fall. These funds have experienced four straight weeks of inflows for the first time since the spring, with last week’s $753 million the highest weekly total in five months, according to data provider EPFR.

Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed a rise in speculative buying of crude-oil futures and options in the week to Oct. 19. Bets on $100-a-barrel oil—a price last seen seven years ago—surged earlier this summer. This month, investors have put wagers on $200.

These investors, especially those that are newcomers or buying for ancillary reasons like inflation fears, are taking the risk that a sudden shock could send oil prices plummeting. That happened in the spring of 2020, when demand collapsed due to the Covid-19 pandemic just as Saudi Arabia ramped up production.

What is more, energy is a major contributor to the consumer-price index, the broadest measure of inflation. That means that investing in energy as a hedge against rising prices can be a self-reinforcing cycle: As oil prices rise, so does inflation, which sends money managers like Mr. Filip back to the energy market to reup their protection.

“People buy oil, that boosts inflation expectations, and that can feed on itself,” said Evan Brown, head of asset allocation at UBS Asset Management.

Inflation has gone from an expected and natural consequence of economies emerging from lockdowns to a major source of investor angst. Higher prices eat into yields on fixed-rate bonds and loans. Stocks of companies that can’t as easily pass on higher costs to customers tend to take a hit, too.

Some investors have bet that oil prices could rise to $200 a barrel.

U.S. consumer prices in September rose at a 5.4% annual rate, faster than in August and just below a 30-year high. Germany’s 4.5% annual rate in October was the biggest year-to-year increase since 1993.

Central bankers in the U.S. and Europe say higher prices are likely temporary and will ease as supply-chain delays are resolved and economies work through restart creaks. But investors aren’t so sure. In addition to more traditional inflation hedges, such as bonds whose yields are linked to consumer prices, they are flocking to commodities.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

How concerned are you about inflation? Join the conversation below.

Mr. Brown, who helps devise portfolios for some $1.2 trillion of client assets at UBS, is recommending commodity futures, energy stocks and currencies of oil-rich countries such as Russia and Canada. John Roe, head of multiasset funds at Legal & General Investment Management, said he is protecting his investments against runaway prices with Chilean pesos, which are linked to copper prices, and shares in gold miners.

So far the strategy appears to be working. Inflation is rising but so are the prices of energy and many metals. Paul O’Connor, head of multiasset at Janus Henderson, warned that might not last.

Today’s inflation is being driven by gummed-up supply chains that have created shortages of nearly everything, pushing the prices of raw materials higher. But he expects future inflation to be driven more by rising wages, and it is less clear if that would have the same effect on commodity prices. “Quite questionable,” he said of the strategy.

By: Anna Hirtenstein

Anna Hirtenstein is a reporter at The Wall Street Journal in London, covering financial markets. She was previously a reporter at Bloomberg in London, an investment banker at Greentech Capital Advisors in Zurich and has also worked as a field correspondent with a focus on oil in Northern Iraq and West Africa. 

Source: Investors Buy Oil on Inflation Fears, Pushing Prices Even Higher – WSJ

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The Problem of Marital Loneliness

My husband is really into geometry, and once he’s mastered a complicated proof he likes to go through it with me in exacting detail. If he sees my eyes wandering, he commands me to pay attention. In general, the kinds of conversations he enjoys are the ones in which he expounds his latest cognitive treasure, be it scientific, historical, or some fine point about how to interpret an obscure ancient text.

I, on the other hand, gravitate toward paradoxes, and enjoy conversations in which I am the one who sets the terms of the problem and I am the one who gets to push all the simplest answers aside. Recently, I tried to spark a debate: Why isn’t it permissible to walk up to strangers and ask them philosophical questions? As I probed for the deeper meaning behind this prohibition, my husband was frustrated by my ignoring the obvious: “Literally no one but you wants to do that!”

Occasionally, the point he wants to explicate magically lines up with the one I want resolved, but much of the time there is a decidedly unmagical lack of complementarity between his love of clarity and my love of confusion. Of course, we compromise: by taking turns, and by putting up with the fact that one of us is, to some degree, dragging the other along for the ride. But we can also tell that we are compromising, and that makes each of us feel sad, and somewhat alone.

Conversation is only one example of the various arenas in which we routinely fail to connect; broadly, he’s considerate and unromantic, whereas I’m romantic and inconsiderate. Marriage is hard, even when no crises loom, and even when things basically work. What makes it hard are not only the various problems that arise but the lingering absence that is felt most strongly when they don’t. The very closeness of marriage makes every bit of distance palpable. Something is wrong, all the time.

Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” from 1973, is the greatest artistic exploration of the vicissitudes of marital loneliness. It consists of six roughly hour-long episodes, in which a married couple—Johan and Marianne—try and mostly fail to connect to each other. Marianne is a lawyer, and early in the series we see her counselling an older woman who is seeking a divorce after more than twenty years of marriage.

The client admits that her husband is a good man and a good father: “We’ve never quarrelled.” Neither has been unfaithful toward the other. “Won’t you be lonely?” Marianne asks. “I guess,” the woman answers. “But it’s even lonelier living in a loveless marriage.” The client goes on to describe the strange sensory effects of her loneliness. “I have a mental picture of myself that doesn’t correspond to reality,” she says.

“My senses—sight, hearing, touch—are starting to fail me. This table, for instance: I can see it and touch it, but the sensation is deadened and dry. . . . It’s the same with everything. Music, scents, faces, voices—everything seems puny, gray, and undignified.” Marianne listens in horror: the woman represents the ghost of her own future.

It is a profound insight on Bergman’s part to notice that loneliness involves a detachment not only from other people but from reality in general. As a child, I had trouble forming friendships, and turned instead to fantasy. I could imagine myself into the books I read and, by embellishing the characters, supply myself with precisely the sorts of friends that I’d always longed for.

If you have engaged in this kind of fantasizing, you know that the thrill of creativity eventually collapses into a feeling of emptiness. This is the moment when loneliness hits. You’ve prepared yourself an elaborate psychological meal, and you realize, belatedly, that it can never sate your real hunger.

One is often loneliest in the presence of others because their indifference throws the futility of one’s efforts at self-sustenance into relief. (If you spend a party reading in a corner, you come to see, no matter how good the book, that you are not fooling anyone.) In a marriage, this loneliness manifests in the various ways that couples give each other space, demarcating spheres in which each person is allowed to operate independently.

If I allow my husband to hold forth and he allows me to go paradox-mongering—if we humor each other—the very frictionlessness of the ensuing thoughts infuses them with unreality. “My husband and I cancel each other out,” Marianne’s client says. She means, I think, that we sap the reality from one another’s lives by way of our lack of interest, our noninvolvement, our failure to provide the constraining traction that is needed for even the most basic sensory experiences to feel real.

Source: The Problem of Marital Loneliness | The New Yorker

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