Summary of Beating Biometric Bias

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Beating Biometric Bias summary

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In TV crime shows, police agents often secretly use fancy facial-recognition software while hiding in black vans and hunting for their suspects. You might wonder whether the police apply facial-recognition software in real life as well. In this eye-opening article in Nature, you will be surprised by how often this relatively new software intervenes in people’s day-to-day lives. The article will engage you if you want to learn more about how this technology works – and think about the difficult ethical questions its application raises.

About the Authors

Davide Castelvecchi is a senior reporter at Nature in London. Antoaneta Roussi is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Richard Van Noorden is a features editor at Nature Research.


Facial-recognition technology is making progress.

Not long ago, digital facial-recognition technology was science fiction. Nowadays it’s deployed by the police to find criminals. Some companies even use it to assess job candidates’ personality traits.

Facial-recognition technologies come in two types. The one-to-one technology makes sure that a person matches their own photo. It’s often used to unlock smartphones or for passport controls. This type of facial-recognition technology has become extremely accurate. Researchers are now also working on implementing 3D facial-recognition techniques as well as skin-texture recognition techniques. In the one-to-many identification, a face is compared with many other faces in a database. This technology is often used by the police to find criminals.

Both technologies have significantly improved thanks to “convolutional neural network” – a kind of deep learning network that is unusually good with images. According to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, the best algorithms are...

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