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Facial Recognition: Advantages and Setbacks

The unprecedented technological development during the last couple of decades has entirely transformed people’s lives, introducing numerous previously unforeseeable opportunities. The enhanced computing capabilities and improvements in graphic processing have turned facial recognition into a widely-spread phenomenon, found in many useful devices. However, one area of its application remains an incredibly controversial issue due to its significant benefits and tremendous risks. This is the use of facial recognition by the police, some aspects of which are discussed in the three articles to be reviewed. Being a potent tool capable of substantially improving the efficiency of law enforcement, this technology is accompanied by severe hazards, which need to be evaluated and taken into account.

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The major advantage of facial recognition is its significant assistance in investigating various kinds of crimes, reducing the police’s workload, and making everybody’s lives safer. The authors of all the mentioned articles have a similar approach towards this aspect, as they indicate the high value of this technology in law enforcement operations. It is also worth noting that there are individual spheres where its application provides the greatest benefits. This tool has proven to be the most efficient in investigating shoplifting, minor theft, and ID fraud, although it has also helped in several investigations of murders and rapes (Valentino-DeVries). Therefore, the application of this modern technology is considered feasible for the overall benefit of society.

Despite the apparent advantages mentioned above, the issue of the proper use of facial recognition and its impact on public freedoms become a source of intense controversy. Here, the articles indicate opposing views depending on their authors’ own beliefs and their connections with law enforcement agencies. For instance, the police commissioner only outlines the opportunities created by the new tool without even mentioning the associated risks (O’Neill). Unlike him, the Washington Post editorial board provides a critical review, emphasizing the hazards of uncontrolled and uncontained application of this technology for the immigration control or even protester intimidation (“Facial Recognition”). Thus, the use of facial recognition requires careful assessment and fully developed regulations for its advantages to overcome the possible setbacks.

Another issue related to facial recognition is its possible undue influence on the investigation process and its high dependence on the input data. These aspects are reviewed in detail by Valentino-DeVries, while the other articles do not cover the relevant aspects. First, it is admitted that the technology has not reached its full maturity and should not be relied upon for arrests and convictions. Nevertheless, it often provides a lead for the police officers, who become willing to prosecute the identified individual without considering other possible suspects. Moreover, the source of such confidence may remain hidden from the defenders, and the system errors can be left unnoticed. Finally, the image quality is critical for identification, and the problems with it substantially reduce its reliability. Combined, this demonstrates the significance of understanding the limitations of the new technology before its application.

The three articles reviewed in this paper perfectly demonstrate the controversial nature of facial recognition in terms of its use by the police. Although all experts agree on the significant benefits provided by the technology, their attitudes towards its possible setbacks reflect a broader division of opinions in the country. Personal freedom and liberty are among the American society’s eternal values, and new law enforcement practices should not jeopardize them. However, residents’ safety and security constitute another major goal of the government, which needs to be pursued. Therefore, it is feasible for the police to use all available technologies, but their application requires careful planning, evaluation, and specific regulation.

Works Cited

“Facial Recognition Could Make Us Safer – and Less Free.” Washington Post, 2018, Web.

O’Neill, James. “How Facial Recognition Makes You Safer.” The New York Times, 2019, Web.

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Valentino-DeVries, Jennifer. “How the Police Use Facial Recognition, and Where It Falls Short.” The New York Times, 2020, Web.

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