Here's Looking at You: Interrogating Facial-Recognition Tech

Feb 21 2020
When: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Where: Harman Academy
Event Type: Polymathic Pizza

Event Details

Facial Recognition technology is a “sprawling, invisible, privacy-wrecking surveillance system built by tech companies, global militaries, law enforcement, commercial interests, and a secretive array of data brokers.” What is there to worry about?  We are pleased to have two of the foremost scholars on facial recognition engage our polymaths in discussion on the historical racial lineages, contemporary realities, and future developments of one of the most concerning biometric sciences.

Speaker Information


Simone A. Brown

Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin

Simone Browne is Associate Professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her first book, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, was awarded the 2016 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize by the American Studies Association, the 2016 Surveillance Studies Book Prize by the Surveillance Studies Network, and the 2015 Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Technology Research. Simone is also a member of Deep Lab, a feminist collaborative composed of artists, engineers, hackers, writers, and theorists. During her year at Yale University as a Visiting Presidential Fellow (2018-2019) she conducted research on electronic waste and effective microorganism to ask questions about the ecology of surveillance technologies, and curated an exhibition and year of arts programming at the University of Texas at Austin on Black women’s creative engagement with surveillance.

Kelly Gates

Associate Professor in Communication and Science Studies, UCSD

Kelly Gates’ research focuses on the critical analysis of digital media technologies. Her main emphasis has been the politics and social implications of computerization, and particularly the automation of surveillance, in the United States from the mid-twentieth century to the present. At UCSD, Professor Gates teaches courses on the history of communication research, the Internet and society, the cultural history of photography and visual culture, and surveillance and the risk society.

Her 2011 book, Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance, explores the effort underway since the 1960s to teach computers to see the human face. The book examines the social construction of automated facial recognition and automated facial expression analysis, focusing on the conceptual and cultural frameworks that are used to think about these technologies, and on the constellations of interests, institutions and social practices that are shaping their development. Gates argues that, despite persistent claims that computers have no social bias, in fact, there is no such thing as a computer vision program that can “see” faces in a culturally neutral way.