人类的脸是一件杰作

THE human face is a remarkable piece of work. The astonishing variety of facial features helps people recognise each other and is crucial to the formation of complex societies. So is the face’s ability to send emotional signals, whether through an involuntary blush or the artifice of a false smile. People spend much of their waking lives, in the office and the courtroom as well as the bar and the bedroom, reading faces, for signs of attraction, hostility, trust and deceit. They also spend plenty of time trying to dissimulate.
人类的脸是一件杰作。面部特征之纷繁各异令人惊叹,它让人们能相互辨认,也是形成复杂社会群体的关键。人脸传递情感信号的功能也同样重要,无论是通过下意识的脸红还是有技巧的假笑。人们在清醒时花费大量时光研读一张张面孔——在办公室,在法庭,在酒吧,在卧室,寻找着兴趣、敌意、信任和欺骗的迹象。他们也花大把的时间试图掩饰自己的神色。

Technology is rapidly catching up with the human ability to read faces. In America facial recognition is used by churches to track worshippers’ attendance; in Britain, by retailers to spot past shoplifters. This year Welsh police used it to arrest a suspect outside a football game. In China it verifies the identities of ride-hailing drivers, permits tourists to enter attractions and lets people pay for things with a smile. Apple’s new iPhone is expected to use it to unlock the homescreen.
科技正迅速赶上人类研读脸孔的能力。在美国,教堂使用人脸识别来追踪教徒做礼拜的出席情况;在英国,零售商用它来辨认有扒窃前科的顾客。今年,威尔士警方利用人脸识别在足球场外逮捕了一名嫌疑犯。在中国,人脸识别被用于验证网约车司机的身份、让游客刷脸进景点、让顾客微微一笑就能刷脸买单。苹果的新款iPhone预计将用这一技术来解锁屏幕。

Set against human skills, such applications might seem incremental. Some breakthroughs, such as flight or the internet, obviously transform human abilities; facial recognition seems merely to encode them. Although faces are peculiar to individuals, they are also public, so technology does not, at first sight, intrude on something that is private. And yet the ability to record, store and analyse images of faces cheaply, quickly and on a vast scale promises one day to bring about fundamental changes to notions of privacy, fairness and trust.