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Pros and Cons of Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition is a highly controversial topic as we move into 2020 and beyond. While there are certainly many advantages and benefits associated with the technology, it's not without its exploits and faults – all of which need to be considered before we embrace modern facial recognition algorithms for mainstream use.

What is Facial Recognition Technology?

On its most basic level, facial recognition technology describes a computer's ability to scan and recognize a user's face. Referred to as biometric technology, it's a concept that was once strictly reserved for books, television, and film. While it's only recently come to fruition in the 21st century, it's already generating a lot of buzz.

The Benefits

Proponents of facial recognition technology cite many different benefits, including:

Account Protection: One of the fundamental applications of facial recognition technology involves security. More specifically, facial recognition technology can be used in lieu of a traditional password in order to secure a device, an account, or entire computer system. Not only is it far more secure than a typed password, but it's generally faster and more efficient, too.

On-Premise Security: Facial recognition technology is also useful in modern security and surveillance systems, where it can identify known offenders, track trespassers, and verify the identity of anyone who comes within range of the cameras.

Lack of Personal Contact: In many cases, facial recognition systems are preferred over other biometric devices, such as fingerprint scanners, as they don't require any direct contact with the user.

Automation: Unlike traditional surveillance systems, facial recognition systems are able to detect and identify faces automatically. As such, they don't require constant monitoring by a human employee.

The Drawbacks

Despite the numerous benefits associated with facial recognition technology, there remains several key drawbacks, including:

Expense: Implementing a brand new facial recognition system from the ground up is expensive. Thankfully, the rapid development of technology will likely cause the overhead costs to decrease as time goes on.

Data Storage: As you might have guessed, facial recognition systems require data storage. Not only do they need to store high-quality images and video, but they need to process and access this information with speed and efficiency. As a result, many organizations that utilize facial recognition technology end up with multiple computer systems to take care of their every need.

Imperfections: Despite the sophistication of current-gen facial recognition systems, there are still plenty of imperfections. In many cases, a modern facial recognition system can be defeated by changes in hair or body weight. There are even reported incidents of individuals using masks and makeup to avoid detection by today's facial recognition systems.

Implementing Facial Recognition Technology in the Future

As you can see, current facial recognition algorithms aren't reliable enough for mainstream use. While there have been limited rollouts and some initial testing done with facial recognition systems, it will likely be several years before we see their implementation on any sort of large scale. However, if opponents to the technology have their way, it could be even longer than that.


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