“If the founders of a new face recognition app get their way, anonymity in public could soon be a thing of the past. FindFace, launched two months ago and currently taking Russia by storm, allows users to photograph people in a crowd and work out their identities, with 70% reliability.”
This is coming, I have zero doubts about that. What will be interesting, and possibly awful, is just how much the social fabric will change because of it. Outside of very small towns, where everyone knows who you are to start with, most of us act in certain ways because we are fairly assured that everyone around us doesn’t know any more about us than what they see in front of them. Once you reach the point where anyone can also look you up online, it will absolutely change how people behave.
Yes, it will help people who want to connect with someone the see in public. It’ll also make it that much easier to stalk them. It’ll make it impossible for anyone to do anything without government surveillance at the least. Commercial and personal interests will also be using this technology to learn more about you as you walk down the street.
Think about how different people will act when they know that anyone they run into in the grocery store, or book store, or on the train, will be able to access their Facebook profile, and reach out to their friends and family? Smile at a pretty girl on the train, and have a message go out to your wife that you’ve been flirting with strangers? Be seen at a political rally for something you disagree with and inform that person’s employer about it and how you’re not going to buy anything from them? Yup, that already happens, expect it even more.
Bottom line, there will be no difference between your private actions and your public ones. If anyone can see you, it’ll be public knowledge. How differently would you act if you knew that all of your friends, co-workers, and potential employers would know all the details?
Yeah, it’s a whole different society when that happens. Not necessarily a better one either.