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"That's again why I'm in favor of regulating the problematic uses of information and technology..."

We agree on this in principle. But again, once authorities have any of this data in their possession, abuse always happens. Literally always.

IMO the root problem is not "oh, the cops are just using all my PII and biometric data inappropriately" the root problem is that "the cops have possession of all my PII and biometric data to begin with."

You have the symptom and disease reversed here, IMO.




I am wary of facial recognition, and I avoid the use of it. But I'm not convinced by this line of reasoning either, so let me play devil's advocate.

> But again, once authorities have any of this data in their possession, abuse always happens. Literally always.

Well, before something can be abused it must first be available to use. Conversely, once a tool is available to use some may abuse it.

For example, if collecting fingerprints or DNA were completely forbidden then that might prevent abuse of such data (such as false matches). But it would also prevent any beneficial uses as well.

Banning facial recognition prevents not only abuse but also any potential good uses, such as locating victims of abduction or trafficking, and perhaps other uses we cannot foresee.

Killing it in its infancy may be easier than doing so after it takes root, but it also gives society less opportunity to learn what the consequences of the technology may be, intended and unintended, good or ill.

We know it can be abused, especially in the hands of an authoritarian government, but does that mean it cannot be used responsibly? Anything that gives the state power could be turned against the people, as libertarians might warn, but social progress also requires that we learn to work together rather than reject anything which might do us harm.

Perhaps a better argument for an early and complete local ban might be that it allows other regions to be the test subjects. Or that by taking a less compromising stance the anti-facial recognition side gains a stronger bargaining position at the table. But those arguments are not as attractive, maybe.


"Perhaps a better argument for an early and complete local ban might be that it allows other regions to be the test subjects."

It's a valid thought, honestly. Though seeing how tightly the police hold onto this tech once they have it makes it extremely difficult to just test the waters (and also requires vigilant public oversight, which the sheriffs' associations will fight tooth and nail).

Also having cops test this tech out, knowing they're going to be deliberately monitored to how often they use it for good reasons (e.g. child abductions) vs abuse it, would probably produce incredibly biased results. Think about it-- the experiment would be entirely self-serving: cops get to trumpet that it helped them for the legit crime here and there (and sitting through public safety committees, believe me, they will TRUMPET it), while showing that zero cases of misuse happened.

Ultimately, we have to think in systems: sure, ubiquitous surveillance would undoubtedly solve the horrific crime here and there, but at what cost to who we are as people? At what cost to how we protect minorities and the undocumented? At what cost to our already eroding public trust?


> Also having cops test this tech out, knowing they're going to be deliberately monitored to how often they use it for good reasons (e.g. child abductions) vs abuse it, would probably produce incredibly biased results. Think about it-- the experiment would be entirely self-serving: cops get to trumpet that it helped them for the legit crime here and there (and sitting through public safety committees, believe me, they will TRUMPET it), while showing that zero cases of misuse happened.

To be fair, wouldn't that suggest strong oversight might work then? True, any test might differ from real-world conditions, but theories need to be tested one way or another and it would provide some evidence.

While caution during early testing might lead to less misuse, one could also imagine countervailing factors. For example, lack of familiarity with a new technology might lead to might lead to mistakes. Regulations are written in blood, as they say, and the development of new ethical guidelines may take time.

Which, as we've noted, could be a pragmatic reason to let others be the test subjects. I'm not eager to open the can of worms myself, though it might feel a bit selfish to put it that way.


"To be fair, wouldn't that suggest strong oversight might work then?"

Fair point, that might work if: 1. a public safety/citizens oversight committee does its job consistently, 2. isn't loaded with police-friendly stooges 3. and isn't gradually de-fanged over time in terms of its power.

All three things, with time, can be manipulated by any given city hall, which is often lock-step with the police force.

"...but theories need to be tested one way or another and it would provide some evidence"

Agreed. And I say let's look at how they've deployed facial recognition in China to put those theories to bed.




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