Facial Recognition: Perception vs Reality

Let's start with a question. Do you trust facial recognition software? If you don’t that makes you normal. On back of San Francisco's recent move to ban the official use of it in the city, there’s been added scrutiny and conversation about its use across the country. I mentioned that most of us don’t trust the technology based on our current perceptions of it. This despite the continued use of it in consumer technology, banking, and cybersecurity. There’s definitely a disconnect in here somewhere. So where is it? 

First, our perception. PCMag’s study of the topic showed that only 25% of us trust the technology. The area of highest trust is the use by law enforcement with 37%. However, we trust bill pay and financial transactions the least with 19%.

Though it’s probably an inappropriate joke, for the 18% who don’t trust the technology for financial transactions but do for law enforcement, it might literally be a case of he looks guilty. Anyway, here’s the fact of the matter, technology is highly accurate, probably more than we give it credit for, but it’s not perfect. Based on government records from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the accuracy rate is 90%. That doesn’t mean that 1 in 10 people can trick the facial recognition software, it means that out of a national database, a false positive ID would only be incorrect one in ten times. 

Are you surprised? Does it change your opinion of the use of technology? We’re all entitled to our opinions, but I thought it’d be helpful to have the facts. 

Photo by: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images



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