Do you sometimes feel like you’re being watched?
Well, you are.
And not just being watched, but being analyzed with a technology designed to get inside your head by reading your face.
Of course, the fact that “Big Brother” could be watching us with hidden cameras is something we’ve known for a while. But now, it turns out we have our own version of the “thought police” as well. And they might actually be probing your feelings anywhere you happen to be.
The “Facial Action Coding System” was actually created back in the 1970s by Dr. Paul Ekman, a psychologist who catalogued 5,000 facial expressions and the hidden emotions they revealed.
Now, it is being put to use by companies with names like Emotient Inc., Affectiva Inc. and Eyeris. Only they’ve taken it much further, putting together a huge database of clues to our deepest innermost feelings.
And they’re selling that capability to companies, which use it for “market research.” It can tell them, for example, how a subject might really be reacting to a product.
But that’s not all. At least one retailer has now embedded it in security cameras. And it’s even been sold to federal law-enforcement agencies for interrogation purposes, which could make for a very real version of the thought police.
Dr. Ekman himself is now reported to be a bit alarmed by the fact it can be used on people without their consent, as are privacy advocates. In fact, he reportedly fears he has created a monster. But as he put it, “I can’t control usage.”
But maybe you can.
For instance, by deliberately gumming up this intrusive system by maintaining your best “poker face” when you’re out shopping.
Or better yet, wrinkling up your brow, sticking out your tongue and thumbing your nose at those hidden cameras. That’s one way to let them know how you feel about their attempts to trespass on your private feelings.
“The technology that unmasks your hidden emotions” Elizabeth Dwoskin, Evelyn M. Rusli, January 28, 2015, The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com