Smile, You’re On Camera Essay

848 words - 3 pages

Mitchell Gray’s paper “Urban Surveillance and Panopticism: will we recognize the facial recognition society?” analyzes the effects of the use of facial recognition surveillance devices as a reaction to perceptions of “insecurity” in urban environments. Mitchell Gray views facial recognition systems as “part of an attempt to reduce insecurity through knowledge and vision, but, paradoxically, their use may add to insecurity by transforming society in unanticipated directions.” Facial recognition, he insists, will expand the disciplinary power of panoptic surveillance into the present-day urban environment. The potential of facial recognition systems knows no bounds, and will ultimately change society’s perception of privacy while at the same time, affect the overall behavior of individuals and groups in publicly surveillanced areas. Perhaps most importantly, facial recognition has the potential to break down the final barriers of what many consider a taboo in surveillance: the ability to predict future actions of individuals by searching for the tiny “microexpressions” that consistently flash over each individual’s face as they contemplate which decision they will make next. These new abilities in surveillance, while effective, will finally unlock what individuals in the panoptic area are planning to do with themselves, personal privacy will become a thing of the past, and society will take one step closer towards becoming one solid mass of regimented and edited ideas.
While Foucault designed a panopticon reliant on one central all-seeing eye, Mr. Gray counters that in today’s world millions of digital eyes is always better than one. Technology of present day makes such surveillance not only possible, but also quite logical and easily attainable. Tiny cameras are currently employed in hundreds of areas ranging from grocery store security grids to college student’s laptops. The quality and reliability of these micro-marvels is astonishing, and the ability to put them almost anywhere makes the creation of a complex and sophisticated tell-all facial recognition program security grid for a major urban area, relatively simple. Each camera would feed its observations into a centralized computer, which would employ an artificial intelligence capable of decoding individual’s facial expressions and determine what the individual’s next action is going to be. This however does not come without its issues. “Like other surveillance tools, facial recognition systems share the problems that arise from secrecy of implementation and the possibility of data errors.” When taking the “human watching human” aspect of Foucault’s panopticon out of the equation and instead relying on machines to do so, there is always the possibility of data corruption,...

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