Talk about being proactive, eh? A new study that’s being carried out at Shanghai Jiao Tong University has been set up to show how a computer can predict if someone will become a criminal based on their facial features. But, are we really expected to take this seriously? Phrenology is a similar study that involved analyzing a person’s cranium to determine their intelligence and character. However, this was quickly ousted around the time of the Industrial Revolution and has never really been given much thought again, until now.
As part of the study, in a paper entitled “Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images,” researchers explained how they used structural features such as lip curvature, the nose-mouth angle, and eye inner corner distance to predict the possibility of the person committing a crime. As written in the paper, “all four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic.”
The researchers believe this to be a constructive study and one that should not be discredited. Their argument to the controversy of it all is that computers can not be racist as they are merely computers. They have no emotion, and no pre-conceived biases to go on. But, at the end of the day, computers and software need to be encoded in humans, so the argument is still valid. There is also no mention of the potential for misuse by law enforcement officials that comes with the technology. So, as much as it might sound like a good idea, it’s not exactly ethical and unlikely to be developed for real use anytime soon.
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