With the kind of technological advancement we are witnessing in the world today, especially in the fields of information technology and Artificial Intelligence, the day is not far away when our basic identity as individuals will be defined by numbers.
Our names, native place of origin, gender, age, educational qualification, address and other details that define us as individual identities will be reduced to a mere numeric identity. That sounds convenient but dangers abound.
If you lose your PAN card today, you know you have to go through a lot of hassles to get it back. Imagine you lose your numeric identity! Or worse, someone steals your numeric identity. That would be a horror. All the information about our identity is now stored as data already.
Meaning, every information about us is being stored as data by some computer elsewhere. This data is of commercial value. There are well-oiled corporations making money out of that data.
That spam call you receive on your phone, the text message you receive, the phishing they do to us are all happening because they have the data. Those ‘spam’ calls and messages may seem like mere annoyances, but they usually stem from acts of intrusion into your personal data, your privacy.
Your number is not just a number anymore. It is linked to data sets about you that slot you into various categories like age, location, employment, net worth, shopping habits. As of date, there is no legal framework to protect your data and thus, they can sell, share and buy data. This makes fertile grounds for cybercrime. And it is only going to get worse, just wait till the wrong people get hold of the right technology.
And, as if that is not enough, people are now talking about face recognition systems. No, not just talking about it but are already doing it. In fact, even the government of Nagaland is at it. Keeping aside its inevitability for the moment, there are certain things that we should be aware of before accepting technology like the face recognition system.
Experts say that the top six ethical concerns related to facial recognition systems include racial bias and misinformation, racial discrimination in law enforcement, privacy, lack of informed consent and transparency, mass surveillance, data breaches, and inefficient legal support. That is a major cause for concern, don’t you think?
There are reports that the Department of School Education, Government of Nagaland under the ‘Nagaland Education Project – The Lighthouse / Nagaland: Enhancing Classroom Teaching and Resources (NECTAR) Project’ is mulling to introduce face recognition technology in government schools as part of its Teacher Attendance Monitoring System (TAMS) protocol.
While the intention is clear, and can be said to be good too, it begs the question of whether it is right or not, or whether we are ready or not. Interesting days ahead.