Frame rules to govern how devices
identify us (Mint)
Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level : Artificial intelligence
Mains level : Regulation needed to uses of Artificial intelligence
- Artificial intelligence (AI) on the most identifiable physical feature
of people, their face. Facial recognition opens enormous possibilities for
law enforcement, no doubt.
- An image captured at the scene of a crime can now be screened against
photographs of entire populations for a match within a matter of hours.
- Most people are not lawbreakers. Yet, the idea of being watched by
devices linked to vast databases far out of sight makes liberal societies
uneasy, even those which have already yielded their fingerprints and iris
scans to official and commercial data gatherers.
- It’s just too creepy, complain some, and civil liberty activists in the
West consider it an invasion of privacy that is simply unacceptable.
- San Francisco, for instance, has banned its police from using facial
- The intrusion that is causing alarm, however, has nothing to do with the
technology itself, and everything to do with the all-pervasive surveillance
- Today, very few of our public spaces are hidden from cameras, some of
which hover over us in the air.
Matter of accuracy:
- How accurately faces are identified by machines is a major point of
- Deployed in law enforcement, false matches could possibly result in
miscarriage of justice.
- Even a low rate of error could mean such evidence faces judicial
- It is in the judiciary’s interest, all the same, to let technology aid
- The algorithms being used to identify individuals may have moved beyond
geometric and photometric approaches to three-dimensional recognition, skin
texture analysis and thermal imaging, but further advances are needed for
the technology to gain reliability.
- First up for addressal is the criticism that facial recognition is still
not smart enough to read emotions or work equally well for all racial
- With iterative use, it will improve. It is thus a foregone conclusion
that justice systems will increasingly rely on its forensic applications.
Should there be no rules governing it?
- Since such tools can be put to mala fide use as well, it is imperative
that we frame rules for it well in time.
- Rogue drones equipped with the technology, for example, should never be
in a position to carry out an assassination.
- Nor should an unauthorized agent be able to spy on or stalk anyone.
Apart from California, the European Union has also decided to exercise some
caution before exposing people to it. Privacy is paramount in these
- At the other end of the spectrum, China has placed hundreds of millions
under state surveillance in public, though a few protests have erupted
- India, which has recently accepted privacy as a fundamental right, would
do well to tilt the Western way on this.
- We need regulations that restrict its use to the minimum required to
serve justice and ease commercial operations.
Q.1) With reference to the ‘National Highways Excellence Awards’, consider
the following statements:
1. It was instituted in the year 2018.
2. The aim is to recognise companies which are performing exceptionally well in
the construction, operations, maintenance and tolling stages of highway
development as well as in the arena of road safety.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) Facial recognition technology is set to become an integral part of
the law enforcement toolkit, but we should regulate this technology before it
pervades our public spaces. Comment.