to identify specific human faces in
photos or video. This technology can
identify and log facial details of individuals by using cloud infrastructure
to process images from a computer,
smartphone, or camera. This information then may be used for a range
of purposes, from recommending
someone to tag on Facebook to catching criminals.
For instance, Amazon has sold facial recognition technology to U.S.
law enforcement, where it is used to
identify persons of interest. It is also
used for mundane functions like
checking for identity theft and fraud
at a Department of Motor Vehicles
(DMV), says Clare Garvie, a facial recognition technology expert at Georgetown University.
Facial recognition also gives centralized authorities like governments
and multinational firms the power to
THANKS TO ADVANCES in artifi- cial intelligence (AI), society is now facing a unique challenge: how do we regulate the usage of human faces and voices?
Facial recognition is the ability of
computer systems to identify and us by
our faces. Voice recognition is the ability of computer systems to do the same
for our words. Both are powered by AI,
and both create benefits for consumers and citizens.
These technologies also raise difficult questions about privacy and personal rights.
Voice recognition powers popular
consumer devices like Siri and Alexa,
but it is also possible these devices are
surreptitiously logging conversations
and providing law enforcement with
information on individuals.
Consider: Amazon sold 2. 5 million
of its Echo voice-assisted devices in the
first quarter of 2018, according to Geek-Wire, while Google sold 3. 2 million of
its Google Home devices. Both devices
represent one of the main ways that individuals are being listened to by machines and, in turn, by the makers of
Facial recognition can be used by
law enforcement to identify criminals faster, but it is also used by the
Chinese government for mass surveillance of its citizenry.
Facebook alone has more than two
billion monthly active users, and any
of them who post photos are subject
to the firm’s facial recognition algorithms, which identify and suggest
tags to users. This is to say nothing
of widespread video surveillance
used by national governments to
identify citizens. For instance, large-scale facial recognition will be used
to identify and monitor hundreds of
thousands of people during the 2020
Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
This all raises the question:
In an age where technology can rec-
ognize you everywhere, visually or audi-
bly, how do you retain your privacy and
“Digitization facilitates the tracking
of everything we do online,” says Eileen Donahoe, executive director of the
Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.
“If everything we do can be tracked and
monitored by government, it will have
a chilling effect on what we feel free to
say, with whom we feel free to meet,
and where we choose to go.
“This loss of privacy in digitized society goes to the heart of free expression, freedom of movement, freedom
of assembly and association.”
The Dangers of Facial Recognition
Facial recognition is, broadly, the
ability of computer vision systems
How facial and voice recognition are reshaping society.
Society | DOI: 10.1145/3297803 Logan Kugler
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener uses a biometric facial recognition
scanner on a traveler at Washington Dulles International Airport.