Potential Benefit Or Problematic Pain: Facial Recognition Programs Are Here Either Way
Change creates fear, and technology creates change. Sadly, most people don’t behave very well when they are afraid. – Daniel H. Wilson
Mr. Wilson is correct in his above statement. Change does create fear, and I would say it is not because something is going to be made different, but because not all change is necessarily good. So our apprehensions arise from the unknown factor of exactly how things will change. Of course technology creates change, and always has. You barely have to think to realize the evolution of any object is ever changing and these advancements have only become faster in recent years.
A quick look into Moore’s Law will interest most people in regards to this. A suspended look, however, into how Moore’s Law can potentially affect our future is startling, many would even say bombastic. With theories stating humans can reach a state of “immortality” by the year 2040, that is of course if you can afford it. Or that by the year 2060 there is no telling, foreseeing, or imagining how things will be because the technology which would be used is so far advanced, it’s unfathomable.
But regardless of exactly what the future holds, there is one technology that has currently concerned, upset, and excited many different types of people. From businessmen and scientists, to military personnel and teachers. This less than considered technology is facial recognition programing, and though it’s not entirely a new concept, it has been refined over the years and implemented in some very interesting ways. Let’s go over exactly a few of those ways and why it has made people both nervous and excited.
For starters, facial recognition is used as a security measure for restricting access to either places or electronic devices. If you have a smart phone, many currently have a feature where the phone will unlock simply by pointing the camera at yourself. Or how about vehicles that know who the driver is and either unlock for them, or automatically start up. In our world, ownership means a lot, and if all of the devices and objects I own could recognize me such that they will only operate for me, what does that mean for thieves? I would assume it then becomes rather difficult to steal anything if what’s being stolen couldn’t be used by anyone but the owner.
Facial Recognition Marketing Advertisements
There are advertising signs out there that know what to show to people looking at the sign. For now this is mostly broken up into male and female advertisements, but the idea that a billboard can change its message depending on who is looking at it is powerful. Targeted exposure is useful, and considering it’s a new and interesting means of marketing, people will probably get caught watching an advertisement when they would have otherwise simply breezed by it. You can check it out here.
Cameras Know When You’re Smiling
Then there are cameras which won’t take a photo until it sees the person smiling. This of course is not always practical, but it does help reduce the problem of people not being ready for a photo. Or how about the all too common eyes being closed as the shutter shuts? This is now avoidable as well, where the camera will not take the shot unless all mouths are smiling and eyes wide open. Now as far as cameras go, yeah it’s a catchy and clever idea. But imagine how useful this would be to know things like, during this movie, 26 of the 50 viewers smiled during most of the jokes, while 5 of them fell asleep. Similar tests could be used for comedy shows and other forms of entertainment.
Japans Walking Vending Machines
You know the future is nigh when you are walking down the street only to be confronted by a walking, talking, Coca-Cola vending machine. A machine that makes its rounds around a city block, asking people whether they want a coke. But how does the machine know a person wants a coke? It certainly can’t accost every person it sees, that sales pitch and marketing ploy could end up becoming a PR nightmare. But the machine knows you may want a Coca-Cola because you are staring at the machine as it walks. The machine notices people who look at it, and if they’ve looked for a while they will be offered a Cola. Now you may be stuck looking at it because you are amazed rather than really wanting a coke, and will be offered a cola as a result. But really, could you deny this salesman?
For A Business To Know Who Has Entered The Premise
This has become the current rave in trendy and upscale restaurants in Los Angela’s. Cameras watch the front doors of the establishment, and when a celebrity walks in, a manager is notified exactly who is visiting, and depending on their importance, the manager will decide how to proceed forward. Generally this means hustling to greet them with a warm smile, and offering them the best seats in the house. It can also help to tell chefs and bartenders, if a person is known to want a specific thing, to begin preparations for it. For now it’s used to focus on the rich and famous, but imagine if you were a loyal customer to some restaurant, and whenever you entered you were immediately asked, “Would you like your usual?” If it happened that I did indeed want my usual, I would be presently surprised to find that my order has been taken without me ever even having been seated.
Finally, there are technological advances so great that we have to limit their ability out of sheer terror of what is possible. We’ve all probably heard of Google glasses, but one of the functions that most scared people was for the glasses to be able to recognize people on the street walking around. This would actually be rather cool, being able to know who every stranger was walking around you, so long as they were active on the internet and social media. It would certainly eliminate the hassle and embarrassment of forgetting people’s names. But this begins to enter a realm with much darker implications. The idea of surveillance states, and the slogan “Big Brother is Watching You” seem to come to mind even though, it’s not Big Brother in this instance, but all of Big Brothers Little Brothers that is actually doing the watching.
In the end, we have to be careful moving forward which has become evident after there was so much backlash when Google mentioned what the glasses were capable of. Many people would prefer to remain anonymous at all times until they have to let themselves be known. I suppose with that said, I don’t want everyone to know me regardless of where I go. Isn’t that the beauty of traveling, that you’re in a new place with new people who do not know you, and neither do you know them? That would no longer be possible would it? You can find out a bunch about a person by doing a simple Google search, with Google glasses and facial recognition, you wouldn’t have to search, it could simply just be given to you. An idea which is both interesting and scary.
The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @JakabokBotch. When I’m not writing about how technology changes our lives, I can be found writing for a Security Consulting firm which is known for using technology to keep us safe.
Edited by Steven Papas