I write about the FBI’s use of state-of-the-art facial recognition technology in its Next Generation Identification System, the world’s biggest biometric database. The new system has come under fire from privacy rights advocates who fear that federal databases will eventually be cross-referenced against other data, connecting faces to medical, financial, legal, and driver’s license records.

Yet as futuristic as this sounds, it’s actually just the latest outgrowth of an art and science that has been under development for more than 150 years. And various techniques for recognizes human faces have always encountered scrutiny as they have been developed and improved—and ultimately moved right along anyway.

Read more in the Boston Globe.


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Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.

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