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Fears of technological innovations are nothing new. When the Kodak portable camera was introduced in 1888, a panic ensued over privacy concerns. People were horrified “Kodak Fiends” would take embarrassing photographs of them without their consent.
The panic over the Kodak camera even made its way to the White House. When a boy took a picture of President Theodore Roosevelt during his first week in office, Roosevelt scolded the boy, saying “you ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
Today - Panic - Kodak - Camera - Quaint
Today, the panic over the Kodak camera seems quaint. Americans carry pocket sized cameras everywhere they go. Still, those fears didn’t seem silly at the time. But real privacy risks were eventually mitigated by things like “Peeping Tom” laws and fear faded as cameras improved, offering more benefit than risk to consumers.
Yet, the tendency to embrace the commonplace and fear new inventions exists. Sociologists have coined the term “technopanic” to describe the mass moral panics that occur when people distrust technology and fear it is a risk to society. But often, this unchecked fear just slows technological progress and imposes real societal costs in the process.
Example - Technopanic - Recognition - Technology - Recognition
A recent example is the technopanic over facial recognition technology. Facial recognition is rapidly evolving and offers many potential benefits to users. Some of these benefits include faster and more secure check-in or payment methods online, personalized services, and more security.
But understandable fears of government overreach may be going too far and ultimately hamstring the benefits of this emerging technology.
Government - Use - Recognition - Technology - News
It is important to constrain government use of facial recognition technology as news reports out of China and elsewhere illustrate how it could be abused. But curbing even private development of facial recognition technology has become a growing trend in the states.
Currently, Illinois, Washington and Texas have laws restricting private uses of the technology. The city of San Francisco followed...
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