Why you shouldn’t be afraid of biometric technology
News about all new methods of biometric identification – from the new iPhone X to video surveillance systems with artificial intelligence – usually cause fear and suggest thoughts of anti-utopias. Do you really need to be afraid of such technologies or are their benefits much greater than hypothetical negative consequences?
Back to the future
Stephen Spielberg’s film Minority Report, in the opinion of a number of technological experts and futurists, could most accurately predict the future.
In 1999, Spielberg set out to make his films more reliable from a scientific point of view, so before the shooting he gathered a council of 15 experts at a hotel in Santa Monica. Among the participants were representatives of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), experts in biomedical research, architects, and others. The result of the three-day talks was an 80-page document under the unofficial name 2054 Bible.
In it, the world of the future was described in a comprehensive way from the point of view of the development of various spheres of life: everyday life, socio-political structure, advertising, law and order, transport, etc.
Only the predictions made then became a reality almost 30 years earlier than expected. Touch screens and systems for crime prevention (a solution based on Big Data in Chicago or a joint project of Microsoft and NYPD) today already exist. But biometrics today is experiencing the greatest heyday of those mentioned in the film.
Tom Cruise’s hero lives in a world where every person becomes an object of scanning the retina of the eye dozens of times a day, whether when passing through certain buildings and objects or shopping. Today, neither is no longer a fantasy.
More than 7.5 billion people live in the world, the retina and the vascular pattern of the eye are individualized. Such a method of identification has a low percentage of false positive results and there is practically no probability of false negative. That is why today, the scan of the retina as a way of authorization is used by organizations such as the FBI, the CIA, and NASA.
Banks also actively use this type of identification. One of the recent examples was the launch of a pilot project of Bank of America and Samsung using the retina image to authorize a mobile bank. The use of scanning a retina or other type of biometrics in place of a password can be an effective solution in the fight against criminals.
Even in terms of ease of use, when there is no need to memorize a combination of letters and numbers, this kind of identification is in every sense a positive innovation. It is especially effective to use several types of biometric identification at the same time (bi- and multimodal identification): at the moment it is almost impossible to hack such protection.
In addition to the banking sector, this type of biometrics can potentially replace not only the analysis of fingerprints but all the other steps in the border control verification procedure. It is already used in test mode, for example, at airports in the UK, Singapore, and the UAE.
While you have already gotten used to the fact that smartphones are unlocked by fingerprint scanning, every new step in the development of such technologies usually scares the public.
When Apple introduced a new smartphone iPhone X, the main innovation of which was the identification of the user via the 3D-scan of the face, many have reacted to the news with skepticism but this is really an important step in the biometric technology industry and their global spread.
Forecast for tomorrow
Any technology passes the stage from universal rejection to widespread distribution. Just think about what a breakthrough in forensic science has made the invention of the algorithm for fingerprinting in due time. In the modern world, the circle of various kinds of crimes and threats has significantly expanded. Biometrics can solve all these problems and create a unified security system in cities, banks, and when using personal devices.
To expand this technology and solve the problem of using personal data, technology corporations must work to create a common set of rules and privacy policies when implementing biometric solutions, as well as provide the appropriate capacity to ensure uninterrupted processing of the data flow.
The solution to the first problem may be blockchain: the technology will make it possible that the base of personal biometric data will not be at the disposal of one organization but will become distributed. Thus, attackers cannot get personal data of users in any way.
As for the capacities, for this already today there are write my papers companies and capacious cloud storage facilities capable of processing and verifying the colossal amount of incoming data for a fraction of a second. Technological companies are striving to increase computing power (for example, Microsoft uses special FPGA matrices in the cloud to improve data processing speed), the development of a quantum computer continues: IBM, in particular, is working to create its commercial version.
Already in the near future we will be able to forget about passwords, stop thinking about the security of the funds on the bank card, and also move around the city more calmly.