If you have a newer smartphone, then you probably are using facial recognition technology to access its features. While this technology is convenient, it presents many problems for personal liberties and security.
We live in a time where technology is creating an incredible amount of information on each and every citizen. Artificial intelligence (AI) is learning about everything we do including the places we go, things we buy and people we hang out with. The “when” and “where” of these events are also designated as educational material for AI.
The scary part is that our information is being collected and stored. The government can access our information, too. Our devices, and the artificial intelligence that is a part of them, are extremely powerful tools.
Sometimes these technologies protect us, but that’s not always the case.
Our phones aren’t the only things that are using facial recognition. Cameras in airports, public facilities, camera drones and body cameras on police officers are recording our faces to determine if we are a threat or are safe to be around.
Do you remember the TV show “Person of Interest?”
Artificial intelligence and machines knowing our every whereabouts are no longer for science fiction enthusiasts.
Security and Safety Before Liberty
Technology is advancing at an alarmingly fast-paced rate. In fact, AI was a thing for science fiction enthusiasts just a few years ago and yet here it is. This type of technology doesn’t just enable the government to be Big Brother; it empowers the government to act like a god.
What’s driving this obsession with technological advancement?
Primarily, it’s the need to secure and protect ourselves. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: “Those who seek security over liberty deserve neither.” In the United States, every citizen is supposed to be innocent before proven guilty.
However, that may not be happening with facial recognition.
Facial Recognition is Falsely Identifying People
Facial recognition software is advanced enough to have the power to analyze real-time video streams to identify and track hundreds of people all at one time. From street cameras to body cameras, to tracking your mobile phone, the government has access to a tremendous amount of information.
But, is that technology creating accurate information?
The ACLU of Massachusetts wanted to find out. They created a test that incorrectly matched 27 professional athletes in New England with a mugshot database. A comparison was made of 188 professional athletes with 20,000 public arrest photos.
One in six were wrongly identified.
In California, another study was done but this time using state politicians. The results were nearly identical to the Massachusetts study. That could have significant consequences for someone who could be falsely accused or arrested.
Consequences of Facial Recognition Technology
When technology doesn’t work correctly, it can have dire consequences.
However, what about the consequences even when it does work properly? It’s still a big civil rights and civil liberties problem. Both big businesses and governments are gaining unprecedented power to track our daily lives in ways unthought of just a decade ago.
People should be able to go about their business without being tracked by a company or government without their consent. Not only that, in the United States we have a right to free speech against the government. Facial recognition could one day be used to intimidate people who protest the government.
While public safety is vitally important, so are one’s civil rights and liberties. We shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice one for the other.
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