Since U.S. Africa Command began operations in 2008, the number of U.S. military personnel on the African continent has jumped 170 percent, from 2,600 to 7,000. The number of military missions, activities, programs, and exercises there has risen 1,900 percent, from 172 to 3,500. Drone strikes have soared and the number of commandos deployed has increased exponentially along with the size and scope of AFRICOM’s constellation of bases.
THE PROVINCE OF Nangarhar, in eastern Afghanistan, is bearing the brunt of ongoing U.S. airstrikes against the Taliban and fighters who have declared allegiance to the Islamic State. Half of July’s U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan – at least 358 strikes – took place in eastern Nangarhar, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. And according to United Nations data released last month, U.S. strikes in Nangarhar are more likely to result in civilian casualties than strikes anywhere else the country. On July 23, one of these strikes reportedly killed at least eight civilians, including children, who were attending a funeral, allegations of which the U.S. military is investigating.
Our research, which will be reviewed for publication this summer, indicates that the U.S. government, researchers, and corporations have used images of immigrants, abused children, and dead people to test their facial recognition systems, all without consent. The very group the U.S. government has tasked with developing best practices and standards for the artificial intelligence industry, which includes facial recognition software and tools, is perhaps the worst offender when it comes to using images sourced without the knowledge of the people in the photographs.*