5 Reasons to Be Terrified That Computers Can Now Read Faces

#2. Dating Is About to Get Really Creepy


You know what the dating scene needs? Total transparency. If you're a young, single lady, wouldn't it be awesome to walk into a club and have the club instantly know everything about you, and to transmit that information to all of the dudes in a 5-mile radius? And for them to then instantly have the ability to know where you live and work? We mean, it's not like there are any douchebags still left on earth.

First, nightclubs and venues can now use facial recognition cameras mounted at the entrance to detect the female-to-male ratio of their clientele and send the information straight to an app called SceneTap. And the makers of the software have bigger plans for it -- a recent patent application filed by SceneTap describes a system that will one day be able to tell race, height, weight, attractiveness, hair color, clothing type and the presence of facial hair or glasses. And it doesn't stop at just helping you avoid hipsters -- they're also interested in trying to tie this app in with social networking websites and databases to determine "relationship status, intelligence, education and income for the entire venue."

"Douchebag Saturation at 81 percent and rising. Break out the Pabst."

And once the dudes flock to the club where they know all of the ladies of a certain demographic are hanging out (or vice versa), a surreptitious phone pic of a hot girl's face will give a guy everything he needs to know. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University figured out that from a random photo of a guy they were able to learn his real name, his private information, even his Social Security number, from information available elsewhere online. From there, it was a snap to create an iPhone app that could do it on the fly -- take a picture, and a few seconds later the screen displays his name and vital statistics.

Hell, you don't even need a real photograph. Law enforcement has new algorithms that they can use to figure out your identity from just a sketch of your face. So you can only hope that the creepy guy at the bar who you gave the wrong phone number to doesn't have access to a cellphone with a camera, or even any level of artistic ability. Otherwise you may get a strongly worded letter in your mailbox stapled to a dead rodent.

"About that drink ..."

#1. Businesses Will Know Where You Are, and Who You Are, at All Times


Of course, retail outlets already have cameras set up all over the place to stop you from stealing their shit, but what if there's a way to use them and facial recognition software to spot you and then spam you with sales messages once you're through the door? Of course, to make that work, the software would need instant access to some kind of huge database of customer photos and personal preferences. And where would they ever find something like th- oh, right. Facebook.

And thus we have apps like Facedeals, which snap into action whenever someone with a Facebook profile passes in front of their cameras. The software runs your face through its database of "tagged" Facebook photos until it figures out who you are. Then it checks out your "like" history to find out what you're into, and sends coupons to your smartphone before you even realize you've been spotted. Oh, and it also "checks you in" automatically so that everyone in your friends list knows which store you just walked into. And really, who doesn't want businesses to track their every move on the off chance that it might get them 20 percent off on a pair of shoes?

It's a small sacrifice for this level of comfort.

Of course, this is still an opt-in service right now -- you have to download the app. But from the businesses' end, that's purely by choice -- there's nothing in the law that even requires a company to tell you it's using facial recognition software on you, let alone using it to market stuff to you. In America (and most countries), there is no right to privacy when you're walking around in public. That's why advertisers can do things like install cameras in billboards to gather useful information about the people looking at them.

But businesses also want to know who the bad customers are. For instance, do you have a reputation for partying too hard? That's a shame, because another app called BioBouncer records the faces of bar patrons and matches them against known troublemakers. Imagine getting into a screaming match with some asshole at a bar, only to find that you've now been instantly blacklisted from every bar in town.

"No, I just need to take a crap and then start a fight!"

And if you think you can just put on a disguise to fool the system, keep in mind that the people working on facial recognition tech aren't stupid -- they know that you're already thinking of just slapping on a fake goatee and some sunglasses and disappearing from the grid. That's why researchers at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton have come out with an algorithm that can account for shades and novelty facial hair. In this dark future, once you're banned from Hooters, you are always banned from Hooters.

Or, you know, an oppressive government could also use it to track dissidents wherever they go. But we wanted to keep things lighthearted.

"Overthrow Sweden? Us? No, sir, we're Groucho Marx."

You can support Monte's struggle against the machines by checking out his comic strip over at RealToyGun.com.

For more reasons to be frightened by technology, check out 5 Ways Video Games Are About to Get Way More F#@kable and 6 New Spy Technologies You Literally Can't Hide From.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 10 Celebrity Twitter Accounts We Lost in 2012.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to switch your eyes out, Minority Report style.

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