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New Amazon Ring patents outline a racist dystopian future

The picture gets even worse when you consider that Ring has partnered with nearly 2,000 police departments.

amazon ring patent for identifying 'suspicious' people based on faces, smells, skin texture and other features
Image: KnowTechie

If the world envisioned in Amazon Ring’s patents come to pass, you’ll never want to leave your front door. The bleak, dystopian Ring-envisioned future seems more Minority Report, than Mr. Rogers Neighborhood; and disturbs the hell out of me. The patents are full of “facial recognition” and other biometrics, all designed to scare you into staying home.

Please don’t take my word for it. Skim through this collection of patents found by Business Insider and you’ll see. Altogether, the patents paint a picture of a surveillance state that puts Orwell’s 1984 to shame.

Imagine this. Every doorbell in your neighborhood is scanning your face, retinas, irises, skin texture, smell, walking pattern, voice, and more, all day, every damn day.

ring camera on wall
Image: Amazon

That would be bad enough, but the Amazon Ring patents go further. Those scanned biometrics will be stitched together, creating a composite image of “suspicious” people. Amazon Ring alarm systems then use those composites to trigger things like locking all the doors in the home, or alerting the house owners if anyone but them moves a package.

Editor’s Note: We should mention that every time we get a statement from Amazon Ring, they always default to “[Ring] does not have facial recognition technology nor biometrics in any of its devices or services,” while going on to say, “patents filed or granted do not necessarily reflect products and services that are in development.” That may be technically true, but the only reasons companies go through the patent process are to safeguard future ideas or to prevent another company from beating them to market with it.

The thing is, computer-generated composites are accurate about five percent of the time. FIVE! How many of your innocent neighbors are the system described by these patents going to identify incorrectly? What’s the chance of it marking your face as “suspicious,” locking you out of your own home?

Facial recognition is still inherently flawed, and multiple studies have shown that the algorithms and systems powering facial recognition have multiple issues that cause misclassification.

The picture gets even worse when you consider that Ring has partnered with nearly 2,000 police departments. So yes, your doorbell’s footage gets sent to the cops, unless you opt-out. Now imagine biometric data being shared with them, as well. Yikes.

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