Facial recognition’s multifaceted uses

Facial recognition software created a stir in the wake of the London riots this past summer, as it provided authorities with a way to identify perpetrators in a crowd. And although the technology hasn’t evolved enough to regularly outdo traditional methods of identification, it’s only a matter of time before it might.

This brings up the question of how riots, which are spontaneous and unpredictable by nature, might somehow evolve if individuals on the streets are aware that they’re being videotaped and watched nearly everywhere they go.

And while some footage might not reveal much, advances in the industry have made it so there is the possibility that multiple cameras could collaborate on information, tracking the movements of an individual across a specified amount of distance and time. This means that a rioter who has disguised himself on the streets could – in theory – be followed home, where different or better footage could more easily identify him.

Someone bent on not being recognized could still evade detection via this method, but facial recognition technology has opened up other possibilities. One of the scariest is the ability for programs to match photographs with personal information compiled from the Internet, something which many people disperse freely without thinking of how that information can potentially be used.

But the outlook isn’t entirely grim, as these same computer algorithms can be used to find missing persons in a crowd or even criminals on the run. Still, those are extreme cases. Even on a smaller scale, facial recognition could be used to track athletes on the field or in a race. And that isn’t all. What practical or positive uses for facial recognition can you think of?

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