The workshop is coming up March 16th virtually. If what I write below resonates with you please consider joining us
I thought long and hard about key constituencies to invite to the Thoughtful Biometrics Workshop and why. I collaborated with Kyra Auerbach to create this image that captures it.
There are many biometrics, ways to capture and measure them, and places in a techno-social system they can be implemented.
The technology landscape is wide and the policy and issue landscape they present is also vast.
This is what we explore at the Thoughtful Biometrics Workshop.
Biometrics as a technology are not entirely “new” – for example, photos have been a part of government-issued identity documents for almost 100 years as 1:1 matching between a human and an identity document. As technologies have progressed (computer vision, AI, ML), new biometric technologies have emerged, enabling products with various use-cases and applications.
There is much to consider regarding thoughtful use. This is one reason we don’t pre-set an agenda, but instead invite key stakeholder communities with different knowledge bases and perspectives to engage in mutual learning and dialogue.
Our hope is to gather humans who care about, are interested in, and are concerned about technology, in order for new perspectives and opportunities to shape future policy to emerge. These are the stakeholder groups invited to the Thoughtful Biometrics Workshop and why:
Civil Society Advocates and the Interested Public
New technologies have many implications. The public is naturally concerned about Biometric Technologies, while Civil Society Advocacy organizations are tracking the development of these technologies and raising concerns about their usage in various contexts.
TBW provides an opportunity to share concerns and ask deep questions of the people who make and implement the technologies, to understand more about how they work in practice. There is also opportunity to share research and studies that have been done highlighting the flaws and misuses of biometric technology with creators, implementers and policy makers.
Biometric Research Scientists & Companies that make Biometrics Products
Companies use the work of biometric scientists to make products. Many technologies are combined to make products that apply to different use-cases. TBW provides an opportunity to share details of how various biometric modalities work (capture and comparison mechanisms) in practice, and to dispel misconceptions. There is also opportunity to share how technologies are combined to make products and how these work with other systems.
Policy Makers and Regulators
Biometrics are diffusing and being adopted in a variety of settings across many domains: employment, government, commercial and civil society. Some of these uses are aligned with existing policy requirements, some are novel uses that are not yet regulated at all.
TBW provides an opportunity to understand the concerns that civil society advocates and the public have about existing and future uses that require reasonable regulation. The event is also an opportunity to learn in more detail from experts in biometrics and understand how the technology works in practice.
Biometrics Implementers in the Private Sector, Government, Civil Society
These are organizations who buy biometrics technology solutions from companies to use in their day-to-day operations. They apply the technology either for authentication (checking someone matches an enrolled identity) or for identification. TBW provides an opportunity to share how and why they use biometric products to solve operational needs and explain more about their reasoning.
The event is also an opportunity to learn more details of how the technology works from the researchers, and to hear more about concerns regarding misuse and overuse.
Technologists Working in Related Areas
There are a range of neighboring technologies and systems often used in conjunction with Biometrics, including identity and access management. TBW provides an opportunity to learn from a range of stakeholders involved in biometrics technology, and to share perspectives about how neighboring technologies interact with biometrics.