Evgeny Morozov brings attention to an alarming story in the Boston Globe — an account of a man who had his driver’s license revoked by a machine. “An antiterrorism computerized facial recognition system that scans a database of millions of state driver’s license images had picked his as a possible fraud” simply because the system’s not-so-intelligent algorithm thought John H. Gass looked like another driver.
For this, Gass–and the rest of us–can thank the Department of Homeland Security. As the Globe reports, “Massachusetts began using the software after receiving a $1.5 million grant from the US Department of Homeland Security as part of an effort to prevent terrorism, reduce fraud, and improve the reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents that states issue.” Get ready for more in this vein: what’s good enough for the Massachusetts DMV may be good enough for FBI’s no-fly list before too long. Who needs judicial proceedings, or human judgment of any kind, when a computer can detect threats far in advance? Franz Kafka couldn’t ask for better material.