This scenario is based from our monthly scenario club at the Urgent Optimists.
Urgent Optimists is a community that brings “together people who want to feel authentically hopeful about the future, and who are working to create positive transformation in society and in their own lives.”
I’m a member of Urgent Optimists, and I think you should be too. Come join me!
Here’s my invitation for you.
If you’ve been face scanned before (especially during COVID-19), say to check your temperature, you probably did not mind it because you gave your consent. Perhaps, you might have even appreciated the tech. Even through immigration, you don’t mind having your passport face searched by the authorities to verify if you’re on the watch list.
But what if you’re in a world where people can take random photos of people without asking for their consent? (Who owns the photo anyway?) And then, people will take a picture of you because they want to face search you online. They want to know all about you based on all the data you put (or others put about you) online. Would you be okay with it?
Here’s a more vivid scenario from the Urgent Optimists:
Somewhere public, a few years from today
You’re minding your own business when you notice someone discreetly raising their phone. They’re pointing the camera lens in your direction, at your face. It’s just a quick flick of the wrist. It happens so fast you almost miss it. But you know what they’re doing. They just face searched you.
A couple of seconds later, they’re looking at their phone screen, no doubt finding out your name, age, and whatever other personal details they’ve set the face search parameters for. Around here, there’s a lot of face searching for “neighbor” or “stranger” status, based on whether your official home address is within the neighborhood boundaries. You know that a lot of people have been face searching for vaccination status lately too. But this is the first time you’ve personally been face searched—or at least, it’s the first time you’ve noticed.
Imagining myself in that situation, I think I’d be initially confused about what’s happening. Do I know that person, or perhaps we’ve met somewhere? And maybe, because I wasn’t thinking clearly, I would leave the area or away from that person, take a photo of that person from afar, and do a face search myself. Ha!
But in this kind of future, what would you do if you don’t want to be face searched? What measures would you take to keep what’s left of your privacy? Would wearing masks covering your entire face be a norm in this kind of future, just as wearing masks during COVID-19 did? Would this cause a social divide between those who wear masks and those who don’t?
Are you ready for this kind of future?