Careers of the Future: Anti-Tracking Makeup Artist

Face-tracking will come to stores, but how will consumers respond?

Facial recognition will be coming to retailers. They will track shoppers, linking their face and other biometric information to purchases, to how they move around the store, to doing market research on whether they prefer to buy their beer from cardboard cutouts wearing bikinis or one-pieces, or whether they prefer the suit to be printed on the cardboard or have actual cloth tied over it (early studies show that in the latter case, 12-year-old boys will peek and be disappointed that the suit is still printed underneath, often saying ‘dang’ or ‘crapola’ as they walk away). Retailers will do this without permission, and it’s not clear how it will shape the future of not just commerce, but fashion as well.

One thing it might do is open the market for makeup artists, makeup, and facial appliances to mask against facial recognition. Of course, there will be makeup-applying robots to automate the process, but citizens will want to choose from human-designed patterns.

It may also result in more men growing out facial hair, causing a large dent to the market for shaving cream and razors. Still, one door closes and another opens, thanks to some insanely shoddy door-hanging work the universe had done while drunk during the photon epoch. Cosmology aside, the beards will be groomed and dyed according to the latest fashion trends. While these augmentations will again be performed by robots, the designers might as well be humans. The question remains whether those are feasible remedies for privacy from in-store tracking.

Others will move to online shopping, where we are tracked, but not so physically. An alternative will be an increase in in-store surrogate shoppers (equipped with VR-ready camera setups to feed real-time VR views so you can shop from afar). The surrogate may be tracked, but if the store doesn’t know who they are buying for, it won’t help them.

Stores could try to implement no-surrogacy policies, or lobby for surrogacy disclosure laws, but it’s unclear how effective either would be. If makeup and appliances are effective, stores may implement no-recognition no-shop policies, but it’s not clear those would be legal. If you genuinely did not have a recognized face, and weren’t masking, their denial of service could be a liability.

One issue is that stores believe it is impractical to have people opt-in to recognition. Many people carry small computers equipped with radio transmitters, which could easily be extended to broadcast (or handshake) to announce their willingness to be facially tracked. With the Internet of Things becoming a topic of interest, it is likely such technology will be added to these personal mobile computers anyway.

In any case, I look forward to the near future when it will be commonplace to see average people in public who look like something Picasso painted.


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