Facial Recognition Technology Is Becoming Frighteningly Good

Yours truly will be one of the stars of a photo campaign for a company that provides facial recognition hardware and software for security. I play a security guard at a basketball game, where a wanted criminal enters the building and instantly gets recognized by the software. Then, my partner’s phone buzzes. The app says this guy is a criminal, so we arrest him and drag him out of the building.

It was one of the most entertaining things I’ve worked on in the past year. But it’s also sort of scary. This company (I can’t name them yet since I signed a certain form) is obviously doing more good than harm. After all, they are helping to keep things safe and sound. But I can’t stop thinking of the book 1984 by George Orwell, where “Big Brother” is always watching you. The cameras these days can actually accurately identify you from a distance. Even if you aren’t a criminal, this still should sound a little scary.

Fascinating or scary?

According to a 2015 article (and things might have changed since then) from the Telegraph, legal protection in regards to facial recognition is stronger in Europe than it is in the United States since companies are obligated to ask permission before using facial recognition systems for commercial purposes. But in the United States, there isn’t much protection, and your face can easily be “recognized” without your permission for legal and commercial reasons.

Facial recognition is undoubtedly more convenient and helpful. The iPhone X is a recent example, and it includes a facial recognition system that is accurate and convenient. A perfect example is when I was in line recently at Starbucks and needed to add money to my card. I launched the Starbucks app, clicked “reload,” looked into the camera, and I was ready to go in less than half of a minute. There was no need to put in some special password or touch some scanner that doesn’t always work.

And pretty soon, you will be able to easily enter apartment buildings, lock and unlock your gym locker, and even enter secured parking structures or neighborhoods with just your face. You will even be able to walk into a fast food restaurant, choose your meal on a screen, and have it instantly paid for. Yes it all sounds incredibly futuristic and exciting. But it should also make you feel very uncomfortable as well.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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