A robot normally used to provide customer service now has a new mission; Scanning your face with AI technology to check whether you’re wearing a mask and asking you to put one on.
With masks now becoming mandatory in many countries inside supermarkets, public buildings and transport systems, SoftBank Robotics Europe has reprogrammed its “cutesy” Pepper android to help enforce the new rules.
A video demonstration shows the robot scanning people’s faces and then telling individuals not wearing a mask to put one on, while thanking those who are already wearing them.
“Using an image recognition AI and Single Shot Detector, Pepper can scan the faces of up to five people at once,” reports Engadget.
“On Pepper’s tablet, a green circle will appear around an image of anyone wearing a mask, and a red circle will appear around the image of anyone without a mask. Pepper can thank people for wearing masks or remind someone to put a face covering on.”
The company asserts that no personal data is used or stored, although face scanning technology is widely used by both companies and governments in dictatorial states like China to enforce compliance and punish social credit score dissenters.
The efficacy of masks continues to be hotly debated, with experts in both the Netherlands and Sweden saying they are pointless while others arguing that they may even help spread the disease because wearers touch them often and are more likely to ignore social distancing.
In a wider context, the mask has become a symbol of compliance while also facilitating many to virtue signal and express righteously indignant and sometimes violent vitriol towards refusniks.
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