Uber is adding an artificial intelligence-powered selfie system to its driver verification methods.
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Starting today, the Uber app will prompt drivers in several US cities to periodically upload selfies before they can begin their shifts. Uber will then use Microsoft's cognitive-recognition AI to compare the uploaded images with the selfie the company already has on file for the driver.
If the two don't match, Uber will temporarily suspend the driver's account while it investigates.
The process "prevents fraud and protects drivers' accounts from being compromised," Uber said in a statement. "It also protects riders by building another layer of accountability into the app to ensure the right person is behind the wheel."
But the company acknowledged that the selfie-verification system isn't perfect. During beta testing, unclear profile photos resulted in several mismatches, though Uber said that more than 99 percent of drivers in the test were ultimately verified.
Microsoft's own applications that use the same cognitive-recognition AI have also seen similair errors. Microsoft's CaptionBot, introduced in April, claims to understand the content of any image, and tries to describe it "as well as any human." But it described a picture of the Eiffel Tower as "a clock tower in the middle of a field." The Statue of Liberty, meanwhile, was determined to be "the tower of clouds."
Perhaps anticipating these issues, dating app Bumble is using humans for its selfie-verification option, which it also rolled out today. To crack down on fake accounts, Bumble now has a team of real humans whose job it is to review photos of members for authenticity. The process is simple but unorthodox. Once you tap on the verify button that hovers over your profile pic, you'll be presented with a sample selfie.
You then strike that pose and take your own selfie, which is sent to Bumble's verification team. Even though they're real people, Bumble says they'll still get back to you within a few hours as to whether or not your selfie pose matches the one in the sample. If it does, you're verified. If it doesn't, and your profile has also been reported by other users as a potential fake, you'll be banned.
Bumble says it expects to have a fully verified user base by the end of the year, although completing the process appears to be optional for the time being.
Using selfie templates and real human reviewers as a verification method might sound extreme, but dating sites are magnets for harassment. A phishing scam in July targeting Tinder users even masqueraded as a verification service but then coaxed users into buying porn.