Be the Vote

Source: DonkeyHotey-Flickr

The Racial Issues Of Facial Recognition In Trump’s America

Facial Recognition isn’t only being used by social media platforms to test their latest software updates via #tenyearchallenge posts. With the development of cellphones, fingerprint scanners and virtual assistants, facial recognition has become an essential security measure that has only tapped the surface of the impact it will give to the most powerful institutions in the world (governments, political leaders, influential entrepreneurs). Safety tends to be the initial reason why facial recognition is deemed necessary but as we live through the first weeks of President Trump’s second year in office and the record breaking, longest government shutdown, the question of who’s truly being protected in this country can’t be avoided.

Facial Recognition will be implemented in airports and immigration centers to combat the rising fear of illegal immigrants coming to America to kill our children and steal the jobs that overqualified college graduates will inevitably take when their communication degrees don’t lead them to promising positions. Two days ago 45 tweeted about “two major caravans” that were turned away with another huge, illegal caravan packed with at least 8,000 people on the way. With advanced facial recognition software, immigration centers and airport employees will be able to keep the border control crisis stable but U.S. citizens that don’t have to worry about visas and a $70 billion dollar wall shouldn’t get too comfortable. Facial recognition software that isn’t used ethically will negatively impact their lives as well.

Minorities in this country already have to deal with the disparities that come from the color of their skin and not being in the right tax bracket. M.I.T researcher Joy Buolamwini wrote in a New York Times opinion piece about the dangers that come from reinforced bias and exclusion by artificial intelligence powered facial recognition software; “A.I. systems are shaped by the priorities and prejudices — conscious and unconscious — of the people who design them, a phenomenon that I refer to as “the coded gaze.” Research has shown that automated systems that are used to inform decisions about sentencing produce results that are biased against black people and that those used for selecting the targets of online advertising can discriminate based on race and gender.” The potential risks of unethical users in border control, law enforcement and school surveillance companies can’t be ignored. Every week headlines about black and brown people facing racial issues that their ancestors had to endure decades back shows us that as technology advances our society’s values need to evolve alongside each iPhone update. No amount of #AllLivesMatter posts can hide the harsh daily realities of citizens that don’t have the privilege to tune out the uncomfortable parts of the world they don’t want to see.

Racial issues aside, facial recognition will greatly impact the world if it’s in the right hands and being used for the right reasons. A Chinese woman that spent 17 years on the run after killing her boyfriend was caught by facial recognition technology at a motorway checkpoint in east China. According to Security Today The Japanese National Police Agency (NPA) plans to use A.I. to combat anti-terrorism in the next fiscal year. On a lighter note, iPhone XS, Google Pixel 3 and many other smartphone owners get to experience the ease of facial recognition every time they glance at their phone to unlock it.

Any advancement in this world comes with its positives and negatives so citizens have to be aware of the importance of keeping the higher powers that have access to these invaluable tools in check. For every crime that gets solved with facial recognition software, groups of people can become targets solely from past ignorant ideals of this country. Continue to stay woke in Trump’s America.

Article By: Marcel “The Messenger” Jeremiah