When have we gone too far? Is it when we're living in a corp-o-fascist economy where so much more is spent on security than productivity that having and perhaps stealing security cameras is more profitable than producing merchandise or for that matter stealing it?
Or is it when we let the cat out of the bag?
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, wants an easier check-in procedure. No more signing in. No more hotel keys. Mark Cuban must have face scanning. It's a more fashionable colonoscopy than say full frontal nudie body scans that increase your cancer risk a lil bit every time you fly the mundane skies.
Fine, let's play devil's advocate. I'm no Luddite. I like technology. I love gadgets. I worship anyone who can make them do unusual things. But there's a limit. Does face scanning solve the problem at hand? Let's say at a hotel you walk through the door, face scanning camera sees you and authorizes you. This means that the door to the hallway will open for you. Like at the hospital. Or a prison. Anyway, so you get to that door.
Naturally, another camera merely identifies you, since the first camera already authorized you. So the system says you're legit so you go into the hallway and enter the elevator. When you get out of the elevator you meet yet another set of double doors. The camera acknowledges you and tells you that you have several phone calls waiting. How nice. So now you get to the door. Oh right, another camera permits you to enter your suite.
Convenient? Yes. Overkill? Need I ask? Holy new security dot com bubble, Batman! First of all, retinal scans can do much better than face scanning cameras. Just walk in at the wrong angle and you won't be authorized, so until that's settled you'll be coming in and taking double poses like when they book you at the police department.
Second, what's simpler for you will inflate room prices. You'll need at least four or five of these systems dedicated not only to everybody that goes by every minute but to each point where you need to be authorized or identified. Sure, you could mix cameras, retinal scans, and modifiable chip implants. Baja night clubs already require them for the upper level party.
Third, the hack-ability of these systems will turn the world into a never ending Hackers soap opera. But the worst part is it the security industrial complex that's funded by our petty need for more conveniences rather than demanding quality service. We're really turning into wusses. The face scanning systems are the most costly and bulky of all the creepy cyberpunk fiction world we're so helplessly making real every year. All this hardware and spending on security instead of better service and hospitality will lead us to an ocean of paranoid mediocrity in everything from hotels to law enforcement to the ever self-reinventing war on terrorism.
Is that what we want? Fortunately, once the glitter and pomp wear off, the first small motel to treat people like human beings will make a killing. How much hell do we want to unleash until that happens? It's not the technology we use that will bite us. It's the technology that we whine for and then we fail to demand that it be developed properly and implemented without creeping out those of us who do pay attention to the news. That's what will bite us. It's not ignorance so much as negligence that is the danger.