While facial recognition technology truly is a revolutionary technology that can benefit a wide variety of industries and provide customers with better experiences, it is hard to ignore that it walks a fine ethical line.
One of the most pressing concerns that the public, as well as many experts, have is that it can be very dangerous when it falls under the wrong hands as it can be easily misused. It can breach our privacy and violate our freedom.
Many people are not comfortable with having their facial biometrics scanned and stored in a database, making it extremely easy for those with access to the database to identify them. This is an understandable concern.
Another huge concern is the accuracy of facial recognition technology. Although accuracy and reliability across genders and different skin tones have improved tremendously over the years, it certainly wasn’t a 100 percent accurate in the past. Even today, there is still room for error.
Considering that many government branches, including law enforcement and border protection, are using this technology today, it can result in inherent bias and the wrong people getting arrested for crimes they did not commit. As such, in the absence of human oversight and extremely careful controls, facial recognition technology can give rise to serious problems and encroach on privacy and liberty. The city of San Francisco has even banned the use of this technology by police and city agencies.
Working towards responsible implementation
While the concerns regarding facial recognition technology are certainly valid, an outright ban may not be the solution. First, banning the use of new technology such as this effectively eliminates opportunities for improvement and realization of value.
Second, many industries that can use facial recognition technology to provide advanced solutions to their customers are now robbed of that opportunity.
The only way to use facial recognition technology responsibly is by laying out and abiding by a strong and strict framework of digital ethics which would allow researchers and developers to keep improving the technology and organizations to take advantages of the many benefits it offers, while also ensuring that risks and misuses are minimized, if not avoided.
For a digital ethics framework to be all-encompassing and reliable, it needs to have human oversight and accountability, adaptability, and trustworthiness, while also being as fair and inclusive as possible. By following these guidelines, the ethical use of facial recognition technology is possible.
Last modified: November 12, 2020