Facial recognition in 2025 – expert expectations

Pew Research released a report in February 2021 in which they canvas the views of various tech experts and futurists about their anticipations of the post-COVID shifts in technology and society for 2025.

Facial recognition and other biometrics and AI featured prominently in these accounts – positioning FRT as one of a suite of inferential and surveillance technologies that will be part of everyday life. As Pew put it:

“At the more everyday level, these experts also think there will be better speech recognition, facial recognition (including sentiment discernment from facial expressions), real-time language translation, captioning and autocorrect capacity, sensory suits, robust video search, body motion sensors, 3D glasses, multimedia databases and broader network bandwidth that will enable full 3D virtual experiences and developments in AI allowing it to serve more of people’s needs”

The individual expert anticipations raise a range of hopes and concerns … given that all these visions relate to 2025, then a rapid pace of technological development and implementation is presumed!

Our new normal will include decentralized, persistent biometric surveillance. Within just a few years, biometric-recognition technology will transition from suspect, to reviled, to acceptable, to essential. Eventually, a massive biometric surveillance apparatus will become the invisible infrastructure enabling our economies to function again.” [Amy Webb, quantitative futurist & ‘Future Today Institute’ founder]


Ubiquitous cameras and facial recognition are only the beginning. Nothing will stop them and any such thought of ‘protecting’ citizens from being seen by elites is stunningly absurd, as the cameras get smaller, better, faster, cheaper, more mobile and vastly more numerous every month. Moore’s Law to the nth degree. Yes, despotisms will benefit from this trend. And hence, the only thing that matters is to prevent despotism altogether.” [David Brin, physicist, futures thinker]


In the Bioinformation Age, transparency, accountability and data governance are paramount, but few organizations are ready. Everyone alive today is under persistent surveillance from a host of technologies, and what most people don’t realize is that tech companies don’t need cameras to see you. From Wi-Fi signals to single strands of hair, it is possible to recognize you without submitting to face scans.” [Amy Webb]


I worry that processing power and widespread data sharing will make it increasingly easy for individual privacy to be eroded, not least through technologies like facial recognition but also through traffic analysis and aggregation of individual transactional patterns. The amount of processing power this kind of monitoring and tracking of individuals will require is already here.” [Mike Godwin, former general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation]

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