Privacy or practicality? That is the question we must ask ourselves in an age of artificial intelligence and technological advances hitherto undreamt of.
Last week, Clearview AI- an American software firm- began deploying its facial recognition technology in the UK alongside the London Metropolitan Police Department to help track down and identify criminal suspects. The software scans photos from across the internet- primarily social media- to compile and index a database of names, faces, and biodata and then matches the information to individuals picked up on CCTV cameras. Clearview currently has a database that boasts over 3 billion images which puts the NSA and all Silicon Valley behemoths to shame.
While this revolutionary technology has helped solve murder and identity theft cases, its practicality is being overshadowed by the impending death of privacy its success is heralding. With Clearview’s assistance, governments can create a surveillance network with almost no bounds and corporations can target customers and farm consumer data instantaneously. The AI is so advanced that it can identify an individual even with 50% of their faces covered meaning obscure angles and dimly lit areas will no longer offer any refuge from the gaze of Big Brother.
Going forward, we must be vigilant about keeping the tendrils of technology in check and continue to make it serve the people, not the state or corporations.