14 October 2020, 20:00
The Hmm ON facial recognition
We all want pretty selfies and a smooth relationship with our devices. Facial recognition software is integrated into our lives more than we even know. We’re embracing these tools when they’re fun and practical, but when is it not okay? Tonight we’ll explore what we’re actually giving up when all these devices scan our face.
Imagine this – a Google for faces. By typing in your name, all the selfies you’ve ever uploaded on the internet, including your old (and, let’s face it, embarrassing) Hyves or MySpace photos, show up. Imagine police and law enforcement agencies using that software to track down criminals, without being sure if, and how, the technology really works. This dystopian scenario has already become reality. Furthermore: Amsterdam is installing smart cameras on the city’s canals and the EU recently dropped a proposal for the regulation of face recognition in public spaces.
So yes, we loved the gender swap filter and had a good laugh. But do we realise just how these sneaky Big Tech companies use these ‘fun’ features as a way to train their software, and to make us familiar with the technique? Why do we easily give up our privacy for an Instagram filter, but find it creepy when our face is being tracked in a public space? How is it possible that we usually don’t even know that our face might be registered while doing groceries? And if the law doesn’t help us, is there another way to protect ourselves? These questions are exactly what we’ll answer tonight.
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The Hmm ON …
We’re using face filters to make ourselves prettier, track our daily steps on our iPhones, and rely on Google Maps to find our destination. But what exactly is the impact of these technologies? With The Hmm on …, hosted by Felix Meritis in Amsterdam, we reflect on these playful, serious, and sometimes disturbing developments in internet culture.
As a policy advisor and researcher at Bits of Freedom, Lotte focuses primarily on the power relations between the state and its citizens, with a special eye on facial recognition. In her opinion, biometric surveillance tech in public space should be banned. Tonight she will talk about surveillance as a sorting mechanism and what this means for society, how we train our own spies by the use of certain apps, and why we should stop it.
The EU is considering a ban on facial recognition in public spaces for up to five years and Amazon recently banned police from using its face detection software. So what is the current role of the face within contemporary surveillance society? Tonight, artist and curator Bogomir Doringer will expand on his long term research project, FACELESS, which tackled the social meaning of the personal image and the recurring presence of hidden faces in contemporary society after September 11. Bogomir is interested in how we can reclaim the body from technology but also how to reclaim technology from controlling us—in a time of COVID19, these topics resonate more than ever before.
What potentials do face filters have to alter our identities and generate critical discussions? As a designer, Noam is excited about the unexpectedness that a well-designed fiction can open up, and the critical political discussions that it may cultivate. Noam will be talking about their newest face filter and how AR filters can be used to create a multiplicitous identity that has the potential to democratise self-design. Link