Amazon Says It Can Detect Fear on Your Face. You Scared?

Amazon announced a breakthrough from its AI experts Monday: Their algorithms can now read fear on your face, at a cost of $0.001 per image—or less if you process more than 1 million images.

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p class=”paywall”>The news sparked interest because Amazon is at the center of a political tussle over the accuracy and regulation of facial recognition. Amazon sells a facial-recognition service, part of a suite of image-analysis features called Rekognition, to customers that include police departments. Another Rekognition service tries to discern the gender of faces in photos. The company said Monday that the gender feature had been improved—apparently a response to research showing it was much less accurate for people with darker skin.

Rekognition has been assessing emotions in faces along a sliding scale for seven categories: “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “surprised,” “disgusted,” “calm,” and “confused.” Fear, added Monday, is the eighth.

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What Does Amazon’s ‘Top Brand’ Badge Actually Mean?

Amazon’s biggest asset can also be a headache for its customers. The so-called “everything store” really does sell almost any item consumers might want, but it’s often cumbersome and time-consuming to sort through them all. To avoid “choice overload,” the retail giant has come up with certain signals designed to help people distinguish high-quality products from the rest. They include star ratings and product reviews, as well as “Amazon’s Choice,” a mysterious badge bestowed on some individual items, which has recently become the subject of scrutiny from lawmakers. Now Amazon is testing a new signifier, called “Top Brand.” But no one seems to know what, exactly, a “Top Brand” is, and Amazon won’t say.

Amazon has long given customers the ability to search by “Top Brands,” but the products previously weren’t distinguished by a special badge in search results. Now, if you search for “swimming goggles,” for instance, Amazon may return several pairs from [...]  read more