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What’s The Future Of Facial Recognition? Is It a Blessing Or a Curse? 

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Facial recognition is not a new buzz. It is an advanced method used to identify a person's identity based on their face using photos, video, or real-time. Security, law enforcement agencies, banking, and financial institutions used this technology to prevent identity theft, find missing persons and curtail crimes.

But on an individual level, it helps to pass the security check at the airports or unlock the devices. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to recognize facial features. This technology has the potential to improve and do more in the future.

The following article delves deep into what is facial recognition? It's working, what is it capable of doing, and also the concerns associated with it. Let's find out now about this technology.

What is Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition is a system that identifies a person from an image or video. It recognizes people's facial and body features and translates them into a unique identity. The identity links the unique features to a particular user or the user information.

Experts categorize facial recognition methods into two types. The one is holistic and the other is feature-based facial recognition:

  • Holistic facial recognition: It analyzes the subject's entire face to detect features that match the target.
  • Feature-based facial recognition: It splits the relevant recognition data from the face and then applies it to the template compared with the matches.

Despite being an innovative technology, the legal use of facial recognition depends on the country in which you live. Countries like China, Germany, and the US legally use this technology. But at the time, it raises serious privacy issues, which the latter part of the article highlights.

How Does Facial Recognition Work?

Facial recognition works to memorize the facial features and later scan them. The software's facial analysis abilities allow the users to understand where the face is present on an image, video, or the attributes of the faces. For instance, it analyzes features like your eye color, hair color, and the geometry of your face.

To make readers better understand how a typical facial recognition system works, below is the breakdown of the steps:

– Detection

In the first step of facial recognition, you keep your face in front of the camera. The camera detects and locates the image of a face, whether in a crowd or alone.

– Analysis

The camera scans the full face by reading the facial marks, distances between the two eyes, distances between one eye and nose, distances between lips and nose, and lips and eyes.

– Converting Image into Data

The system memorizes your entire face and transforms the analog information into a set of digital data based on the person's facial features. It means that your face's analysis turns into a mathematical formula, and the numerical code is called a faceprint.

– Finding a Match

In the last stage, the faceprint is compared to a database of other facial codes. The comparison depends on the number of databases the software accesses. For example, on Facebook, people tagged in any photo become a part of Facebook's database that helps in facial recognition. If your faceprint matches with an image in the database, then the software successfully finds a match.

You can use various facial recognition software to find an accurate match. Some of the most popular software include FaceApp, FaceID, and Face Net. Also, some factors like lighting, camera pixel, and algorithms need consideration.

Use of Facial Recognition In Today's Era

Nowadays, there's an unprecedented rise in the use of facial recognition. This technology has become famous as it is more convenient and safer. Below is an insight into the benefits of facial recognition technology:

– Device Security

Smartphones now have a feature of facial recognition. There are screen locks that give the option of facial recognition. iPhones have this option nowadays. In this option, you give your facial identity to the phone, and it memorizes it. It works as your screen lock, so every time you want to open your phone, you keep your face in front of it. It scans your face and opens if it is the face feed in the system.

– Social Media Apps

Our social media account has also diverted towards the technology of facial recognition. Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp use these facial identifiers. This technology is enabled only through smartphones. You can set up your face recognition for your home screen and set it up for your social media applications.

– Public Security

Facial recognition can fight against crimes by locating wanted criminals within a crowd or catching terrorists entering a country. Also, they prove helpful in identifying criminals whose images are present on the surveillance feed. Besides this, airports and banks use this technology to verify a person's identity.

– Improves Photo Organization

Facial recognition also helps tag photos in your cloud environment via Apple or Google. It becomes easy to organize, find, and share your pictures.

– Reduces the Number of Touchpoints

By utilizing an AI system, facial recognition limits touchpoints. It happens when unlocking smartphones, withdrawing cash from ATMs, or performing any activity that requires a password.

Darker Side of Facial Recognition Technology

With any technology, there are potential drawbacks, and the same goes for facial recognition. There are always threats to privacy, data/identity theft, misuse of data,  and violation of freedom. Continue reading and find out more about the drawbacks.

– Violates Freedom Rights

Countries with authoritarian regimes like China, Iran, Iraq, and UAE use facial recognition technology to spy on citizens and arrest the wanted ones. It's somehow good still; it's a violation to those who haven't done anything wrong.

– Identity Fraud

Lawbreakers can even use facial recognition technology to execute crimes against innocent victims. For example, they can collect a person's information, including imagery and video collected from facial scans and stored in the databases. The threat can use the data to open a bank account or take out a credit/debit card using the victim's identity.

– Data Misuse

Systems having employees' biometric data, including the facial recognition data, is the primary target of hackers. Most companies store facial recognition data in the cloud server. It means that the third parties can access it without acquiring authorization. If hackers access it, it can be hazardous as the individual data can't be changed even if compromised.

Besides this, the bad actors can even harass or stalk a victim using facial recognition technology. Thus, it's essential to protect yourself from facial recognition technology.

Is Facial Recognition Accurate?

The accuracy of facial recognition technology is improving with each passing year. In 2014, the facial recognition algorithm error rate was 4.1%, but in 2020, it reduced to 0.08%. Experts also suggest that the facial recognition accuracy rate goes up to 99.97% under an ideal situation. The essential things for more accuracy include perfect positioning, maximum lighting, and effective algorithms.

But, in 2018, MIT conducted a study that made a shocking revelation about this technology. The study discovered that when facial recognition matches dark-skinned women, the error rate was 34.7%. But, the maximum error rate for matching white men was 0.8%. It shows that facial recognition technology is a bit biased.  

How Can You Protect From Facial Recognition?

As facial recognition technology becomes widespread, the chances for hackers to steal your data and commit frauds also increases. But by practicing some security measures, you can limit the information to link with your facial database. Like, for instance, you can use two-factor authentication to maintain your device security.

Also, you can change your Facebook settings. It helps in deleting the face template they have for you and makes it impossible to find your match.

Final Thoughts

Facial recognition has become a popular technology, and it continues to rise in the upcoming time. It has the potential to improve device and social media apps security. Also, law enforcement agencies can use it to combat terrorism and enhance public safety. But despite all these benefits, this technology has several loopholes that put your privacy at stake. The results are sometimes biased, as proven by the study, and it creates more issues for the individual and business sector.

Thus, as a whole, this technology is more of a curse than a blessing and needs improvement in various areas.

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Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.

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