Deliveroo rider with facial disfiguration speaks out as AI recognition software failed to recognise him

Amit Ghose encountered the AI facial recognition software as he applied to become a Deliveroo rider to earn extra money for his wedding

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A man with a facial disfiguration was left "disheartened" after AI recognition software failed to recognise him.

Amit Ghose, 33, was born with neurofibromatosis type 1, a condition that causes tumours to grown along nerves.

He lost his left eye when he was 11 and wore an eye patch while waiting for a prosthetic eye, leading to bullying at school. But despite those challenges, Amit says he’s "always" embraced his disfigurement and has a "positive personality".

Looking for some extra cash to fund his wedding, he decided to sign up as a Deliveroo rider. However, after filling in his details, Amit was prompted with an AI facial recognition software.

This asked him to repeat a number of facial prompts - such as blinking and opening his mouth. The software then failed to recognise Amit, he claims, and rejected his prompts every time he tried - leaving him "frustrated."

A Deliveroo spokesperson apologised and said the firm had put "an approach in place to resolve the issue". Amit, a regional manager for a law firm from Birmingham, said: "I’ve always embraced my disfigurement.

"My confidence and my personality reflects a lot of positive energy. But my confidence started to fade away after this. It’s really interesting how AI is coming along but the personal touch and the empathy is lost.

"It made me look in the mirror and question all of the things I advocate and talk about. Am I different? Am I normal? It recognised my head turns but when I had to blink and open my mouth it rejected me.

"It left me really left me disheartened and frustrated. Eventually they apologised and they unlocked it for me. To me, that opens another layer of security concerns because now more and more companies are using this type of software."

Amit GhoseAmit Ghose
Amit Ghose

Amit also has worries about other AI related recognition software and often "fears" running into other issues. He said: "When I’m walking towards an AI passport gate as well I have fears about worrying if the gates will open.

"There’s so many cans of worms that this can open up. I think AI software developers and engineers need to work with people with facial disfigurations to help develop it so that it becomes easier.

"Let’s get this right, because if AI is the way we’re going to move forward, it needs to be as accepting as real humans are. They need to recognise that there are people that face these challenges and they need to address them."

Amit Ghose with his wifeAmit Ghose with his wife
Amit Ghose with his wife

Amit says his father is the "biggest reason" he’s been able to accept himself. He said: "It’s challenging in its own right but growing up with that in an Asian culture comes with its own challenges.

“But my father really supported me throughout and never made me realise that I was different. But what is different? Aren’t we all different in our own ways?

"My father was a great advocate of that and he treated me the same way as all my siblings. That really helped me build myself and allowed me to have confidence."

"I really feel that people only see your condition when they first see you and then when they speak to you they see you for you and your name. I want to help with getting that support out there for others and I think we need to make a bit more noise about it really."

A Deliveroo spokesperson said: “We are sorry for the experience this rider had verifying his identity. As soon as this was brought to our attention, we reviewed what had happened and put an approach in place to resolve the issue.

"Onfido and Deliveroo are committed to ensuring all riders feel supported at all times when working with Deliveroo, and we are evolving our authentication technology to ensure this doesn’t happen again.” Amit is hoping to raise awareness around facial equality - you can find out more here: Face Equality International