Is Big Brother watching you?
In the 2002 Steven Spielberg film “Minority Report,” Tom Cruise‘s character, John Anderton, enters a shopping mall of the future as he evades his former Pre-Crime partners. As Anderton moves through the crowd, holographic advertising billboards use facial recognition software to convey messages specific to him.
Actually, this takes place after Anderton has his eyes replaced with those of an Asian man, so the advertisements are a little skewed.
“It’s nice to see you again, Mr. Yakamura. I hope you enjoyed those black dress socks, size small, from your last visit.”
People are bombarded by advertising at every turn now. Can you imagine if this included advertising specific to you? Not only that, but annoying advertisements that followed you around every store?
It may sound like science fiction, but take it from me: it is only a matter of time.
Personalized advertising is nothing new. Facebook is notorious for “selling out” its users and offering their preferences and other information to advertisers. The Zuckerberg monster then allows these same companies to post ads on your pages that are more likely to appeal to you. Even worse, a product or site you “like” could lead to your name being attached to an ad targeting your friends and family!
“Jim and Susan like Preparation-H hemorrhoidal cream. Don’t you?”
Email spammers can also drop “cookies” into people’s systems that essentially transmit information about their shopping habits to marketing agencies, who then inundate these people with even more email advertisements. Of course, this is no secret and has been happening for years.
But things are going to get worse. I saw another sign of impending doom today.
C/Net just reported that Google’s Motorola Mobility will purchase Viewdle, a facial recognition technology firm whose software is capable of tagging photos automatically. Earlier this year, the illustrious Facebook bought Face.com and its automatic photo-tagging application.
Now when you take a digital picture, you won’t have to worry about identifying the people in it. The software will handle it for you.
Am I the only person who finds this rather frightening? And can “Big Brother” be far behind?
It starts with the people in your Facebook photos being automatically tagged. And before you know it, the advertising billboards from “Minority Report” become reality. Facial recognition will be completely mainstream, and that’s what worries me the most.
How will this technology be abused? Better yet, is it being abused now?
I swear that I am not and never have been a conspiracy theorist. That being said, I can’t help but wonder if our government monitors its people without their knowledge, even in the interest of national security. More Patriot Act, anyone?
We all know cell phones can be used as microphones, even when they’re switched off. And movies like “Patriot Games” have shown how effective satellite imaging can be in tracking individuals anywhere in the world. Toss in facial recognition software and the most powerful computing in the free world and voila! Our government could become “Big Brother” overnight!
I wish I could say this would never happen, but I have my doubts.
This kind of technology has probably been used in some capacity for years, perhaps decades, before it went public. And the attacks of September 11th made everyone so paranoid that I can understand Homeland Security or some clandestine government agency using it to bust bad guys.
I just worry they might use it on you and me, too. And personally, I would rather “Big Brother” not watch everything that I do.
Some of it is kind of embarrassing…
Posted on October 4, 2012, in Perspectives and tagged conspiracy, Facebook, facial recognition software, Facial recognition system, Google, government, humor, Minority Report, musings, personal, perspectives, Science and Technology, technology, tom cruise, Viewdle. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.