Privacy and security are popular buzzwords these days. The world has become less secure and that scares people. Political leaders who decry big government are the very ones who want government to be able to spy on their citizens.
Anyone who has watched the fantasy world of N.C.I.S. or Mission Impossible movies recognizes one basic axiom of technology. If they can think of it, they can probably do it– someday, but not in the next 10 minutes. Can a traffic camera capture the face of someone walking down the street and do facial recognition through a database of faces? Sure. Uh huh. Not!
Captured On Candid Camera
That might have seemed preposterous a few years ago but today, well, I’m not so sure. Our favorite Mac maker, the little company from Cupertino that could, is about as secretive as the government; any government. A few years ago Apple bought the 3D company that help make Microsoft’s popular Kinect motion control system.
Today there’s news that Apple has purchased Faceshift, the company that create the animated computer generated images of various Star Wars movie characters. Without wanting to read too much into Apple’s plans for the future, based on how insecure the world has become– both from bad guys and the so-called good guys who want to protect us from bad guys but don’t know how to protect us from themselves– I’m not so sure facial recognition is such a good thing anymore.
Sure, it’s nice to have facial recognition software sort through 10,000 photos in a few minutes to come up with all those photos of your spouse, but it’s something else again to be recognized by the powers that be while you walk down the street, drive your car, or watch TV.
Any camera that can look at you can be accessed by someone else and it’s a short joyless ride to the misuse and abuse of modern technology that falls into the wrong hands. Through the years we expected Apple to create a visual gesture-based tool for TV watching but I think that’s archaic in the face of what Apple may really be on to.
How about a combination of gesture and facial recognition combined with customized characters (avatars) for interactive games and interaction in social networks? Frankly, as cool as that sounds it also sounds a bit scary. On the other hand, facial recognition that is as accurate and as fast as TouchID on your iPhone and iPad could be a godsend to the issue of security vs. ease-of-use.
But carried to another level, Apple’s recent purchases in gesture-based and facial-construction and recognition technologies could also open doors we haven’t thought much about. Apple could give Siri a face. Or, better yet, we could give Siri a face. Worse, though, Siri could be watching us using the Mac, iPhone, or iPad build-in camera, and recognize our moods, and perhaps know what we’re thinking, or, at least know the difference– thanks to face recognition and voice analysis– when we’re lying and when we’re telling the truth.
Sure, this technology might start out by tagging photos of friends, family, and co-workers every time a photo is added to Photos. That’s the bait, and a good way for a device-based but cloud-connected system to capture photos of everyone everywhere, all easily shared with governments or Skynet.
Don’t laugh. Unlocking iPhone, iPad, and Mac via facial recognition is not that far removed from unlocking your whereabouts and what you’re thinking and feeling thanks to facial recognition and voice analysis.
Shouldn’t that be a little scary?