Facial Recognition is at a Crossroads

Facial Recognition is at a Crossroads


Smile you're on candid camera!  In his book, 1984, George Orwell warned of a dystopian future where the authoritarian “Big Brother” regime monitors its citizens through television-like “telescreens”.  Who’d have thought that he was predicting the future.  Facial recognition technology has now evolved at such breakneck speed, it’s brought consequences that could be positive or altogether more sinister, depending on your point of view.  Either way it’s here to stay, but the debates continue.

In the last few weeks tech companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Amazon are no longer selling facial recognition software to the police.  Concerns over the technical accuracy and bias of the dataset has been indicated and more recently highlighted by the “Black Lives Matter” campaign.  Also, San Francisco, the world technical innovation hub, became the first U.S. city to ban police use of facial recognition technology in police investigations.

There is also the question if facial recognition technology can be an invasion of privacy and security and many human rights organisations are requesting the government implements rules and regulations to ensure it is properly used.  But do the positives outweigh these concerns?

With the release of the iPhone X, millions of people now have face recognition technology in the palms of their hands, protecting their data and personal information. But whilst this is the most well known use there are also a wide range of cases, whereby this technology is helping people in their everyday lives.  There is an application that helps the blind, recognising when people are smiling and alerting them with a vibration.  Finding missing persons, diagnosing disease, securing our schools, possessions and money.  There was even a project in China, installing machines in public toilets that scanned peoples faces before releasing toilet paper (it wouldn't release more paper to the same person until after 9 minutes had gone by!!)

Here at Klickdigital we have been using facial detection in many of our projects, believing it’s a way to defend and protect our lives. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic our solution was applied in hundreds of thousands of IR cameras installed in government office entrances across the US.  This measured individuals temperatures and combined with facial recognition allowed individuals with abnormal temperatures to be remembered and identified.

So whilst this is an ongoing debate it looks like the answer could lie in regulatory guidelines being put in place.  But in the meantime technology advancements continue to make our world safer, smarter and more convenient.  At Klickdigital we do not share the same concerns or artificial ethics on facial recognition as some other organisations. As we have seen, governments and private companies will actively pursue the increased use of this technology, so progress will continue in this area.

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