New technology raises both excitement and concern when it becomes integrated into widely-used systems that affect large groups of people, if not the entire country or even the entire world. While its potential uses, various applications, and the solutions it presents to problems can be exciting, some people feel concerned about the damage that new technology can do to individuals and society as well. Whether it be concerned about the loss of privacy caused by a device that can listen in, the dangers of theft or fraud through a system that anyone can access, or any other reason, there are some inherent concerns that arise when new technology is released.
Not all technology carries the same types of concerns. For example, some technology has made it easier for individuals to find local businesses or for businesses to gain Instagram followers. Both individuals and businesses benefit from that type of technology, and not many are concerned about using it. Other technology like computerized facial recognition, though, brings up more concerns and worries.
While face recognition in the airport can be beneficial in a number of ways, like helping staff locate passengers to notify them of a change or help them find their party or preventing those who are travel restricted from trying to leave the country, many people have begun to raise concerns about its potential for violating an individual’s privacy, the potential use for fraud, and other misuses that give good reason for people to worry. So, despite the good it can do, should we be worried about computerized facial recognition? To decide that, it’s important to know the potential risks and main concerns.
What are the Main Concerns with Facial Recognition?
There are a number of different concerns that have been raised when it comes to using computerized facial recognition, in any given circumstance. One of the top concerns shared by people around the world is the potential threat it poses to the privacy of the individual. Whether it be used by law enforcement to identify and catch criminals, or by companies to really hone and target their advertising, many feel that facial recognition would impede on the privacy of those who are not being pursued by law enforcement or those who don’t care to be advertised to.
Another big concern when it comes to facial recognition is the accuracy rate that it has. Privacy concerns aside, if law enforcement, for example, were to start using facial recognition technology to aid in bringing justice for crimes, they would very likely still make mistakes. While mistakes are made, even without the technology, some argue that it is so unreliable it could do more harm than good. According to a report by Big Brother Watch, facial recognition technology is inaccurate more than 90 percent of the time.
The Biometrics Institute did publish a blog post which disputed that the Big Brother Watch report did “…not contain sufficient data to assess the true accuracy of the system…” since accuracy can be affected by numerous factors including the quality of the image and the database size, resulting in false identification or missing the identification of the correct person. However, even if the accuracy rate of a facial recognition system is better than 90 percent or above, the fact still remains that facial recognition is not accurate and could result in irreparable damage to an individual or group.
Finally, another main concern that many have when it comes to facial recognition is the misuse or abuse of the power that it gives a person or organization. Without checks and balances, or if the technology were being used by the wrong person or group, it could be used to cause harm in any number of ways from voyeurism to fraud and scams.
Luckily, there are ways that each of the concerns with facial recognition can be addressed, from ensuring there are protocols in place to always improving the system. And if those concerns were to be addressed and resolved, then there are many who would likely feel more favorably toward facial recognition, especially because of the vast benefits that it has to offer.
What are the Benefits of Facial Recognition?
One of the top benefits of facial recognition as it is being used currently is convenience. Whether you want to open your phone without having to use your hands, don’t want to open up your wallet when paying for goods or services, or are sick of seeing irrelevant ads, facial recognition can be used to solve both problems. It also has the potential to be used for other conveniences including replacing tickets to a ballgame or concert or helping you get around an airport or building without having to use a map or ask for help.
Security is another big benefit of facial recognition. Despite the concerns with inaccuracy, it has been used to help catch criminals and help make the streets safer. If it were to be used more widely, think of the good it could do. Not only could it improve security on a large scale, but it could strengthen the security of businesses, better protecting sensitive data and information.
Finally, it can also be used to collect more in-depth information than would otherwise be possible. For example, it could read facial expressions during interviews of all sorts, helping detect a lie that the naked eye may not be able to see. It is also already being used to detect certain facial features that are indicative of rare genetic disorders that may otherwise go undiagnosed for years.
So, Should We Be Worried?
David Wong said, “New technology is not good or evil in and of itself. It’s all about how people choose to use it.” Although some may be worried about the potential risks of or harm that computerized facial recognition can do, with the proper security measures in place and adequate checks and balances, the good that it can do and the positive effects it can have in so many different applications may very well outweigh the concerns about potential risks. What do you think? Is there cause to be concerned about facial recognition technology?