Disclosures about the political past of the co-founder of Banjo, Damien Patton, an US company specializing in artificial intelligence (AI), are putting their business with government agencies and public institutions in Utah and Indiana at risk. Several agencies have stopped or largely abandoned their surveillance cooperation with the company after it became known that Patton was a youth of the Ku Klux clan and was involved in an assassination attempt with a gunshot at a Nashville synagogue.
Distanced from the far right scene
Like the magazine OneZero Revealed in late April, the banjo founder steered the car at the age of 17, from which another member of the racist and right-wing extremist association fired a gun at the Jewish church and its administration building. Property damage occurred during the attack, and the community was in shock. A newspaper photo from 1992 shows Patton together with other clan members at a Hitler salute under a swastika flag.
The accomplice initially fled to a paramilitary training camp, later to another state. He went to the Navy, where, according to the report, he was initially in contact with neo-Nazis and skinheads, but said he had distanced himself from the scene for the service to his country and had helped law enforcement officers to fight "hate groups". Years later, he and his accomplices were tried, pleading guilty and getting away without prison.
Access to surveillance images
When Patton made a career in the tech world and made headlines with his supposedly privacy-protecting surveillance technologies for "predictive policing" and other data-driven analytics, the incisive passage in his life was long ignored. This may have been due to the fact that his first name appears in the court files as "Damian". Compared to OneZero, the now 47-year-old presented the difficult phase as a youth sin. He regretted his slip very much, especially since his mother was a Jew herself.
As a “responsible member of society,” Patton has had successes for Banjo, such as signing multi-million dollar contracts with Utah cities and towns. The company thus received, for example, access to video recordings from state surveillance cameras on streets or public places, to emergency call systems, movement data from public vehicles and other sensitive information. It should combine them with content from social networks, media, blogs or measured values from sensors and indicate "in real time" dangerous situations for public safety or other emergencies.
Customers turn away
Many of the contractors have the collaboration based on the report now suspended and sound out how to proceed. There is no excuse for Patton's previous activities, said a spokesman for the Utah Justice Minister, who also serves as the state's attorney general. The banjo software should now be checked by an independent body for possible bias and data protection violations. State procurement officials and the University of Utah also stressed that all cooperation with Banjo is paused.
According to the magazine, the mayor of the city of Goshen in Indiana, Jeremy Stutsman, went one step further. The "personal history" of the banjo managing director runs counter to the basic values of the community, which values its openness, emphasized the man from the office. The existing contract with the company would therefore be terminated "immediately". An Indian anti-drug association had previously provided grants to give the police in Goshen access to Banjo's solutions in which venture capital firm Softbank, among others, had invested.
. (tagsToTranslate) Banjo (t) Data Protection (t) Artificial Intelligence (t) Predictive Policing