I'm not the biggest fan of Tom Cruise these days, but his "Minority Report" was an interesting film that looked into the future of how society interacts with technology. Eye scanners, touch screens and all sorts of machinery that is currently on the border of reality and science fiction were portrayed to show a highly organized spatiality where the police could arrest and have someone convicted for merely thinking of committing a crime.
Now the idea of prosecuting thought crimes is much farther down the scale towards science fiction, but facial recognition technology is being rapidly pursued. The problem is that the U.K. is a little too "big brother" hungry to install the equipment to handle that.
From The Guardian:
Border security officials believe the machines can do a better job than humans of screening passports and preventing identity fraud. The pilot project will be open to UK and EU citizens holding new biometric passports.
But there is concern that passengers will react badly to being rejected by an automated gate. To ensure no one on a police watch list is incorrectly let through, the technology will err on the side of caution and is likely to generate a small number of "false negatives" - innocent passengers rejected because the machines cannot match their appearance to the records.[...]
Phil Booth of the No2Id Campaign said: "Someone is extremely optimistic. The technology is just not there. The last time I spoke to anyone in the facial recognition field they said the best systems were only operating at about a 40% success rate in a real time situation. I am flabbergasted they consider doing this at a time when there are so many measures making it difficult for passengers."
The article also points out that similar technology employed at this year's Super Bowl was turned off because it couldn't deal with the amount of people. After thinking about the technological realities of 2008, there is also the moral issues of this. What happens once we start using biometrics on a large scale? Like in "Minority Report," could advertisers at the Gap scan our eyes and personally tell us about the latest styles and how something new compares to another item we bought previously? It may sound trivial, but that intrusion into our privacy is a serious issue that the authorities in the U.K. do not seem to care about....and I don't have much more faith in the TSA here in America either.