Many Kiwis may be going about their shopping completely oblivious to the fact that they are being watched. Artificial technology (AI) is increasingly being used in New Zealand, with one expert saying many customers are unaware.
AI Forum NZ executive director Madeline Newman said most retailers are using facial recognition technology in New Zealand, but there is a lack of transparency with consumers.
"It's really widespread these days, most major retailers would have some form of certainly surveillance technology installed," Newman told Melissa Chan-Green on the AM show.
Facial recognition analyses people's facial features and then compares the information with a database of known faces to try and find a match.
Newman said the technology is most commonly used for security and surveillance purposes to help stores pick up shoplifters.
But many Kiwis do not realise this process is happening.
Newman said in New Zealand it is generally enough for stores to provide a privacy notice outside the door as a form of consent - but many shoppers won't stop to read the fine print.
"We're interested in building trust with AI and facial recognition and that means being open and honest about where you're using it and what you're using it for," Newman said.
"When you're not open about what you are using it for people tend to build a bit of distrust and maybe think you are going to be using it for other purposes like marketing and perhaps onselling your data."
Newman said there is a known problem with unconscious bias in using the technology.
In 2019, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology found that out of 189 facial recognition algorithms the majority were biased and were less accurate in identifying minorities.
Newman said New Zealand Police only got one positive match when they trialled an international surveillance system last year that had three billion images in it.
She said the AI Forum NZ is currently working with the Government to develop an AI strategy.