Facial recognition software is one of the many ways that artificial intelligence, often referred to as simply AI, has become widely used. Face ID logs you into your smart phone or certain accounts, and it plays a role in two-factor authentication too. This makes it easy to securely sign into your accounts and even your phone. After all, who else has your exact face?
Despite the convenience of it, facial recognition also presents questions about who is collecting this data, where they’re keeping it, who they might be selling it to, and other privacy concerns that have made the software a hot topic since its inception. Thus the question remains: What will happen with the industry in 2022?
Facebook Pulls the Plug
Some of your first interactions with this technology may have been circa 2010, when Facebook made it possible to quickly and easily find most of the friends you wanted to tag in a photo. Thanks to AI, the algorithm could match uploaded pictures to your friends’ profiles so you just had to click ‘Accept.’ In 2019, this software became optional so users who were uncomfortable with revealing that much data could feel a little more secure in their privacy.
Then in late 2021, the social media platform announced that it was cutting its ties with facial recognition entirely, a move that many users have been clamoring for. Facebook reports that it didn’t sell the data to third party organizations and they’re also deleting the cache they’ve collected from over 1B users already.
Despite this change, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, affirms that it still believes in the positive uses of AI but still keep users apprised of updates to their identification software.
The Deepfake Problem
While Facebook used a legitimate algorithm called DeepFace to identify its users, deepfake is a malicious practice that presents one of the biggest concerns about AI as it stands today. Both use deep learning AI to teach their algorithms to distinguish and recognize specific people in media. This is how it learns to tell people from trains and you from your best friend.
Deepfake technology then takes this a step further. It’s capable of identifying certain individuals and then replacing their visage with someone else’s, in both picture and video format. Machine learning capabilities have advanced to the point where it becomes more accurate over time, as it learns to recognize mistakes and gets fed more reference images. You can immediately see why this would be useful to cybercriminals looking to cover their tracks, as well as why Facebook users worried about their information being stored in the DeepFace database. That much information would be a game-changer for any hacker.
What This Means for 2022
As a massive cultural influence, this move from Facebook could portend a domino effect in social media sites across the web. Given the increasing power available to those who receive the data obtained by facial recognition, though, it’s also fair to suspect that more money will get poured into research and development of this particular brand of AI. Then we’ll start to see new editions of facial recognition technology, more secure and transparent as they might be, start to infiltrate the market.
It has its uses, thus we’re likely to see facial recognition software become more prominent in fields like multi-factor authentication. Face ID is a relatively simple way to prove your identity without waiting for an SMS code or email with a one-time password. Hackers have a harder time breaking into your account with MFA and face ID is the more convenient choice for many users. As long as it’s adequately balanced with security, more platforms could begin integrating multi-factor authentication as part of their commitment to better cybersecurity.
By 2024, facial recognition software is estimated to pervade 1.3B devices. An upward trend like that, in conflict with rising concerns about privacy and data collection, will have to find innovative ways to evolve so that it addresses these real concerns without sacrificing the progress made in the industry since Facebook announced its new tagging feature over a decade ago.
The culture of Covid is also changing how society functions. Touch-free options like face recognition remain an increasingly popular option for those practicing social distance. One thing is for sure: 2022 will be an interesting year for AI.