The Technology Facebook and Google Didn’t Dare Release
An opinionated and honest journalist explores the path of facial recognition
Facial recognition technology has been a topic of both fascination and controversy in recent years. The ability to identify individuals based on their facial features can have both positive and negative implications. This article explores the technology that Facebook and Google chose not to release, the ethical considerations surrounding facial recognition, and the current state of the technology.
Google’s Abandoned Tool
In 2011, a Google engineer revealed that he had been working on a tool to Google someone’s face and find other online photos of them. However, Google decided not to release the technology, considering it too risky. The decision was made by the company’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, who acknowledged that they had developed the ability to recognize unknown people’s faces but chose to withhold it.
Tech Giants and Start-Up Acquisition
While Google held back on releasing its facial recognition technology, the tech giants also indirectly contributed to its limited availability by acquiring start-ups that offered similar capabilities. Apple, Google, and Facebook acquired facial recognition companies but limited their services to outsiders. The Silicon Valley heavyweights became the gatekeepers for the technology’s use and progression.
The Changing Landscape
In recent years, smaller and more aggressive companies, such as Clearview AI and PimEyes, have broken the barriers set by the tech giants. They have relied on the open-source nature of neural network technology, which forms the foundation of most artificial intelligence software. This openness has allowed these companies to develop and deploy facial recognition tools with fewer constraints.
The release of facial recognition technology by start-ups like Clearview AI and PimEyes raises ethical concerns. These tools allow for the search of an individual’s face across millions or even billions of online photos, potentially revealing sensitive and private information. The technology that was once held back by the tech giants due to its potential dangers is now being used by the police, authoritarian governments, and potentially in everyday applications.
- Facebook previously faced backlash and a lawsuit for its facial recognition technology used to tag friends in photos.
- Facial recognition technology can be a valuable tool for individuals with vision problems or face blindness.
- The potential applications of facial recognition technology range from finding someone at a crowded conference to enhancing security measures.
- The open-source nature of neural network technology has allowed for rapid advancements in facial recognition capabilities.
Facial recognition technology, once withheld by tech giants like Facebook and Google due to ethical concerns, is now being aggressively developed and deployed by smaller companies. The open-source nature of the technology has allowed for rapid advancements, but it also raises significant ethical considerations regarding privacy and the potential for misuse.
The release of facial recognition technology by start-ups like Clearview AI and PimEyes has disrupted the landscape and challenged the original decisions made by the tech giants. What was considered too risky or ethically questionable is now becoming more prevalent. As the future unfolds, it is crucial to navigate the ethical considerations associated with facial recognition technology to ensure its responsible and beneficial use.