Apple Thinks I’m Two-Faced

I’m a self-professed lover of all things Apple. Caveat:Mostly because I do use Amazon Alexa all throughout my house. But everywhere else, it’s all Apple – IPhones, new MacBook Pro, Apple TVs, IPads, IMac, iCloud for all my backups, and Apple Watches.

I’ve loved the iPhone X and, in particular, Face ID. It has worked like a charm reliably and consistently…until today. What happened today? I shaved my beard off. Mind you, prior situations I’ve worn hats or sunglasses and have successfully unlocked the X and apps with Face ID. But today I shaved my beard and Face ID did not recognize me. No worries. I went through the reset process and re-registered my “new” face with Face ID.

I’m intrigued by this for a few reasons.

  • Did it work before with hats or sunglasses due to a vulnerability? Or was the AI of Face ID’s computer vision algorithm THAT good?
  • For the same reason, when I shaved today, did it stop working because it legitimately “saw” a different person?
  • In the broader topic of “explainable AI”, can we mere mortals in fact determine or predict what the true outcome should be for instances like this? Because if we can’t, then I’m sure the hackers will.

If we expand this facial recognition to the larger world around us, will I start getting advertisements, traffic tickets, or be placed on some “watch list” the next time I grow a bear or shave in the future? Many companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies dream of the day of large-scale facial recognition and action ability of that recognition to make more money, surveillance, or arrests. Or is that simply the looming nightmare for the rest of us?

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