Facial recognition holds the promise of an incredible leap forward in law enforcement, but backwards in individual rights. No longer will oppressive governments need to employ human watchers to monitor video footage. Currently, highly accurate computer algorithms, monitoring tens or even hundreds of millions of video feeds, match patterns of facial geometry to identify individuals, even if beards or makeup are used. A criminal suspect shows his face on a public street, at a shopping mall, in a bank, or at a bus stop, and an alert can immediately go out to summon police for arrest.
Tellingly, the same system can be used against terrorists, political dissidents, union leaders, human rights protestors, members of the press, the poor, or ethnic minorities. As Paul Harvey used to say, you can run, but you can’t hide.
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