The Department of Defense and Seattle's RealNetworks company are reportedly developing AI-driven facial-recognition capabilities for U.S. Air Force autonomous drones.
"The U.S. Air Force has completed a project to develop face-recognition software for autonomous drones, sparking concerns that individuals could be targeted and killed," reported the New Scientist, which also revealed the contract between the DoD and RealNetworks is worth around $800,000.
RealNetworks has stated its technology may be deployed for domestic search operations, perimeter security and rescue missions, although automated weaponry is becoming more and crucial hardware for the military. As a result, significant moral and legal concerns are being raised regarding facial-recognition on combat drones.
Privacy advocates fear abuses of facial-recognition technology, but the software is already in relatively wide-spread use.
Libyan troops has been employing drones with the tech since 2021, according to the U.N.
It's not always used by the military.
For example, Dubai police use drones loaded with facial-recognition tech to identify dangerous drivers, and China deploys these types of drones, as well.
In the United States, there are no federal regulations governing facial recognition technology. However, Portland, Oregon has a very harsh ban on using the tech on drones, and the New York Civil Liberties Union has cautioned against its use. The use of FRT by the government has been banned in the California cities of San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. Vermont has the first state to outlaw FRT-equipped drones by government agencies—although they may be used with a warrant, or for any action against the sex exploitation of children and human trafficking.