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Emotional surveillance

Facial recognition tech is becoming more sophisticated, with some firms claiming it can even read our emotions and detect suspicious behaviour. But what implications does this have for privacy and civil liberties?
Facial recognition tech has been around for decades, but it has been progressing in leaps and bounds in recent years due to advances in computing vision and artificial intelligence (AI), tech experts say.
It is now being used to identify people at borders, unlock smart phones, spot criminals, and authenticate banking transactions.
But some tech firms are claiming it can also assess our emotional state.
Since the 1970s, psychologists say they have been able to detect hidden emotions by studying the “micro expressions” on someone’s face in photographs and video.
Algorithms and high definition cameras can handle this process just as accurately and faster, tech firms say.
“You’re already seeing it used for commercial purposes,” explains Oliver Philippou, an expert in video surveillance at IHS Markit.
“A supermarket might use it in the aisles, not to identify people, but to analyse who came in in terms of age and gender as well as their basic mood. It can help with targeted marketing and product placement.”
Market research agency Kantar Millward Brown uses tech developed by US firm Affectiva to assess how consumers react to TV adverts.
Affectiva records video of people’s faces – with their permission – then “codes” their expressions frame by frame to assess their mood.
“We interview people but we get much more nuance by also looking at their expressions. You can see exactly which part of an advert is working well and the emotional response triggered,” says Graham Page, managing director of offer and innovation at Kantar Millward Brown.
More controversially, a crop of start-ups are offering “emotion detection” for security purposes.
UK firm WeSee, for example, claims its AI tech can actually spot suspicious behaviour by reading facial cues imperceptible to the untrained eye.
Emotions, such as doubt and anger, might be hidden under the surface in contrast to the language a person is using.

Source: BBC
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