Derived from the Greek words “bio” meaning life and “metric” meaning to measure, biometrics refers to applying statistical analysis to physical traits.
A biometric is any measurable physical characteristic or personal trait that can be used to identify or verify an individual’s identity. As an emerging technology with ever-increasing applications, biometric technology is used for personal identity, authentication, profiling, analysis, and tracking. These applications raise concerns for people in some contexts, but these systems are also being used to make it easier to access the devices and accounts individuals and companies rely on, thereby helping to do things like unlock smart phones, access bank accounts, travel, and enter physical workspaces. There are things biometric technologies do well, and areas where the use of biometric systems should be considered with caution. Particularly when systems are used to track people’s health, behavioral habits, analysis or profiling, or even to evaluate emotion, personal characteristics, or preferences. Current social, ethical, and regulatory regimes are still grappling with how to best govern the development and application of this technology.
The Biometrics session will cover topics including:
- How biometrics systems work, including definitions, technology processes, and common systems such as facial recognition, fingerprints, voice, and behavioral characterization;
- The benefits and risks, including efficiencies, potential harms, and privacy considerations;
- Common commercial applications of the technology in healthcare, advertising, employment, and education contexts; and
- Social and ethical considerations, including law enforcement uses, regulatory frameworks, and standards setting initiatives.