Facial recognition technology is appearing everywhere these days. Software that is capable of identifying a person from a digital image does have its perks, however it is true also that face recognition represents a significant digital challenge for companies and organisations using the technology.
Having caught up on the recent news that King’s Cross developers had to defend the use of facial recognition technology around their site, it got me thinking. This technology was implemented to best ensure public safety and provide those who visit the site with a good experience – sounds positive, right?
But having read further into the news, the developers have received a huge amount of backlash as the local council didn’t know that the system was in place, leading to fear around the potential for inappropriate use.
Transparency is vital in an age where consumers are more digitally savvy than ever before. And, as technological advancements develop at an unprecedented rate, the general public deserve the respect to be protected in situations where technology is at the forefront.
Take OpenAI as an example. The company represents transparency in practice when it comes to external comms around a piece of tech. In February, the nonprofit research company openly came out to say that their new technology was too dangerous to release to the general public, after allowing journalists to test it. The company chose to break their normal practice of sharing their research for fear of potential misuse, to instead spend more time discussing the impact of the technological breakthrough.
The days of last minute crisis prevention should be behind us, as companies have the opportunity to proactively share communications around a new technology. This proactive, transparent and open line of communication goes down well with the public. It has the potential to avoid misconceptions of how technology is being used in our society, and it is something I hope to see more of.
King’s Cross would not provide any detail about the software used by its surveillance cameras, beyond saying in a statement that they used a “number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition” across the development.