Thursday, October 08, 2015

We know who you are

Bruce Schneier has an interesting article:
"Walk into a store, and the salesclerks will know your name. The store's cameras and computers will have figured out your identity, and looked you up in both their store database and a commercial marketing database they've subscribed to. They'll know your name, salary, interests, what sort of sales pitches you're most vulnerable to, and how profitable a customer you are. Maybe they'll have read a profile based on your tweets and know what sort of mood you're in. Maybe they'll know your political affiliation or sexual identity, both predictable by your social media activity. And they're going to engage with you accordingly, perhaps by making sure you're well taken care of or possibly by trying to make you so uncomfortable that you'll leave.
The critical technology here is computer face recognition. Traditionally it has been pretty poor, but it's slowly improving. A computer is now as good as a person. Already Google's algorithms can accurately match child and adult photos of the same person, and Facebook has an algorithm that works by recognizing hair style, body shape, and body language ­- and works even when it can't see faces. And while we humans are pretty much as good at this as we're ever going to get, computers will continue to improve. Over the next years, they'll continue to get more accurate, making better matches using even worse photos."
There is a gap in this example. The store's computers will know who you are, but how will the sales assistant? I foresee something akin to Google Glass, the optical head-mounted display which Google discontinued for consumer use. Glass would seem to have more specialised application for augmented reality in areas such as security ... and as described above, in retail.

If this ever comes to pass, expect a large banner header on this blog:

'Don't bother me, I'm just looking!'