When pub­lic good, profit spring from the same source

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 13 Business - By MA SI masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

I as­sumed the avatar of a tech­nol­ogy re­porter three years ago, when Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto im­pressed me no end.

Af­ter all, tech­nol­ogy gi­ants’ prod­ucts and ser­vices are om­nipresent, which makes them pow­er­ful. You want to be care­ful — even an in­ad­ver­tent mis­take, like, say, Face­book’s re­cent data breach scan­dal, could land one in po­ten­tial le­gal trou­ble.

Over the years, as I deep­ened my un­der­stand­ing of the tech in­dus­try, I dis­cerned that for­ward-look­ing com­pa­nies don’t just sit pas­sively to avoid mis­takes.

In­stead, they be­lieve a bet­ter op­tion is to make use of cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies like fa­cial recog­ni­tion to em­power or­di­nary peo­ple and make a dif­fer­ence to their lives.

Like, it could bring about a re­union of par­ents and their long-lost chil­dren traf­ficked 27 years ago.

Mind you, that’s not an ex­am­ple but a true story. Fu Gui found his par­ents thanks to AI and fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy.

De­tails: Both Fu and his father started to search for each other sev­eral years ago. They even reg­is­tered their in­for­ma­tion on Baobei­hui­jia, or Baby Come Home, a vol­un­teer-run web­site ded­i­cated to find­ing lost young peo­ple.

How­ever, what took their re­union so long was that the in­for­ma­tion they posted on­line was hugely dif­fer­ent, which could not re­sult in au­to­mated match­ing of their re­quests.

Fu’s post said he was born in April 1986 and went “miss­ing”, kid­napped by hu­man traf­fick­ers in Fu­jian prov­ince in 1991.

In his post, the father said Fu was born in Novem­ber 1984 and went miss­ing in 1990 from a vil­lage in Chongqing, about 1,700 kilo­me­ters away from the lo­ca­tion Fu reg­is­tered on­line.

Yet, against all odds, AI brought about their re­union by over­com­ing the in­con­sis­tent in­for­ma­tion.

The fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy can com­pare im­ages of a per­son over a pe­riod of time at dif­fer­ent ages. An AI com­pany called Baidu and Baobei­hui­jia fed into their fa­cial recog­ni­tion sys­tem tens of thou­sands of pic­tures. Next, the sys­tem

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