The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Facial Recognition’s Growth

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Introduction

People like to throw out the term “smooth sailing” whenever things go their way. It’s a simple, nice term to use when things go flawlessly, and it gives us a good feeling when we find ourselves in a situation that allows its use.

But the advancement of certain technologies can never be referred to as “smooth sailing”. Not even close.

Growing technologies come with their ups and downs, their negatives and positives. Facial recognition technology (FRT) is one of those technologies. It opens up many possibilities for us in terms of advancements and benefits, but it comes with its fair share of problems—problems that need to be ironed out, and fast.

But before we get into it all, let’s talk about the recent trends of facial recognition and what it brings to the table.

The Recent Trends of Facial Recognition 

Let’s talk about a few of the ways FRT has taken over the world. The most obvious implementation to point out would be the growing use of facial recognition in consumer-grade devices, such as phones and laptops.

Many of Apple’s devices, for instance, use facial recognition as a way to lock and unlock the device. Windows carries this capability as well, a feature known as Windows Hello.

Besides allowing for better security in devices, facial recognition is being used to supervise the streets of cities in multiple countries, the prime example being London, England. Cameras are stationed in many streets, and these cameras allow for law enforcement to increase their supervision in an effort to keep up with criminal activity.

These cameras incorporate FRT in order to identify criminals and keep tabs on citizens. If this sounds like a problem, don’t worry—we’ll get to that soon.

FRT is also used to diagnose certain diseases and disorders. The app Face2Gene is a good example of this and can be used to diagnose rare genetic disorders in children by scanning the face.

However, these trends can lead to negative repercussions, specifically, the trend of using FRT for security. 

See, there are positives regarding facial recognition. With it, we can make scientific advancements, help lower crime rates, and make life generally easier. However, the problems that do come with FRT are glaring and should be addressed ASAP.

The main problem with FRT concerns security. If other cities and countries follow London’s lead and start setting up cameras on street corners, how far will they go? How far do we let them go before we start drawing parallels to 1984?

The main downside to FRT is our privacy. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself against FRT if you so desire.

How to Avoid Facial Recognition

A popular way people use to avoid having their face scanned on the street is to wear accessories designed to repel facial recognition technology, such as specially-made glasses and masks. 

Opting out of social media facial recognition features (such as Facebook’s FRT feature) is another good way to make sure your face stays out of a database. After all, it’s known that many companies store all kinds of personal information about you, and Facebook is most definitely guilty of this.

And if you want to be extra careful, use a VPN. While a VPN won’t hide your face from cameras on the street, it will protect your personal data from being spied on. After all, governments love tracking our data, and us being on the Internet gives them the opportunity to do so without a camera. A VPN encrypts your information, making sure this can’t happen.

Conclusion

The growth of facial recognition has been entertaining to watch, but my concerns trump any optimism I may have for the technology. Until the negatives have been squashed and guidelines are set in place, I recommend doing your best to avoid facial recognition technology. It may be difficult, but our privacy demands it.

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