Those who remember the movie ‘Minority Report’ will be able to recall a scene where we found our hero, John Anderton, trying to make his way through a crowded futuristic mall while eluding police and staying undercover. Unfortunately for him, this is a world where every advertisement is designed to cater directly to every customer that passes by, and each one easily picks him out of the group through the use of rapid-retina scanning technology that reads the identity of each person who happens to meander by.
In a recent TED Talk, Alessandro Acquisti paints a picture of a future much like the one originally envisioned by Phillip K. Dick over 20 years ago. One where no matter where you go in condensed, city-like settings, you can be assured that someone is watching you somewhere, and likely feeding your movements into a computer to be analyzed and advertised. To further his point, Acquisti revealed data detailing when he and his fellow researchers analyzed 6,000 online dating profiles located within the same US city.
With the help of his team, Acquisti was able to use only four cloud computing cores in conjunction with the commercially available recognition software PittPatt to identify 1 in 10 of the daters who were pooled together in the same category. From that information alone they were then able to acquire the last 4 digits in all of the participants social security numbers, which granted them unrestricted access to bank accounts, phone bills, and personal info across a wide range of digital products and services.
We’re already halfway toward turning science fiction into a reality, with billboards in London that can scan people as they walk by, determine their gender, and play a specific advertisement depending on whether they are male or female — either a video to the women, or a set of statistics for the men. This is just the beginning of an era of personalized advertising, where soon all it may take is a quick snapshot of your face for a corporation to learn everything about you; from where you work, to who your friends are, and even what you’re planning to eat for dinner tonight.
This could also lead a to a rise in what’s being called “body-recognition software”, which has the added capability of being able to not only pinpoint the details of a person’s face from a distance, but also incorporate their body type, height, weight, and general build into the algorithm to return results on photos that had previously stumped facial-recognition alone.
If in the next several years we see a drastic rise in the computing power and security capability of facial recognition, we could even start using our face to pay for food at the store, to verify our identity when mailing packages, and withdraw cash from the bank. A simple nod could be all it takes to retrieve your entire account in a single transaction, and the security of this technology must be air tight before anyone considers installing this as a primary means for taking care of their finances at the bank or from home.
Thankfully, the implementation of most these technologies in our everyday life is still a long ways out, and we won’t have to concern ourselves with being spotted by the latest makeup ad from Maybelline while running from the cops anytime soon. Until then, keeping your identity hidden will be a crucial part of keeping the knowledge about your digital presence as limited as possible. HideMyAss Pro VPN is here to help you and the people you care about remain under the radar of major conglomerates and governments alike.
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