On the heels of the Biden administration’s landmark (but also insufficient) executive order on artificial intelligence, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is holding his next major forum on the hot-button topic today, including one on high impact AI. Astoundingly, the leader of the Senate has invited Clearview AI, the notorious facial recognition company founded by far-right MAGA extremists, which is so problematic that it has faced bans and lawsuits in multiple countries.
The controversial decision to invite Clearview comes after Schumer faced intense criticism from civil rights groups who were initially excluded from his high profile AI discussions, while inviting Big Tech CEOs and investor Marc Andreesen, who has literally compared regulating AI to “murder.”
Digital rights group Fight for the Future, who lead a large coalition of dozens of civil liberties and civil rights organizations calling for ban on facial recognition surveillance, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to the group’s director, Evan Greer (she/they):
“Inviting Clearview to a discussion about how to regulate artificial intelligence is like inviting an arsonist to a meeting about fire safety. There couldn’t be a more egregious example of a company with a business model that is fundamentally incompatible with basic human rights and responsible use of AI technology. Besides their alarming ties to right wing extremists, Clearview has shown an almost gleeful disregard for basic ethics, civil rights and civil liberties. Leader Schumer inviting this company’s CEO to his forum today calls into question whether Senate Democrats are serious about regulating AI at all. Maybe Leader Schumer is just enjoying the attention? Congress needs to move quickly to address the harm that AI systems are doing right now: supercharging discrimination in policing, workplaces, healthcare, housing, and education. A first step would be passing laws to end the existence of predatory surveillance companies like Clearview AI, rather than rubbing elbows with their CEO.”
Fight for the Future has fought the spread of facial recognition, campaigning for federal, state, and local bans while organizing cultural opposition to the spread of the technology. The group worked with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and other artists to lead a successful campaign to keep facial recognition technology out of more than 40 of the worlds’ largest festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo, and SXSW. The group then worked with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy to get more than 60 prominent colleges and universities. The group launched a campaign to push retailers to commit to not using facial recognition on shoppers and workers in stores. In response to controversy around Madison Square Gardens using facial recognition to ban certain people from events, the group launched a broad campaign to keep the technology out of live event venues, with more than 100 artists and 25 venues signing on in support.