wordsmith + lover of language

Would you wear this if it could protect your identity?

This Concept Jewelry Reflects the Stark Reality of our Tech Saturated World

Incognito.PNG

In a world where we’re already nearly inextricable from our phones, is there any hope for privacy in the future?

My old phone used to know my fingerprint. Now, my upgraded model will unlock with a passing glance. With or without makeup, sunglasses or not, double chinned and covered in chip dust alike, my front facing camera is intimately familiar with all angles of my face. It’s just the world we exist in, uploading our photos, leaving crumbs of our identities behind without so much as a second thought. The more innovation in tech, the easier it is to shed fears about privacy. After all, the people who don’t adapt get left behind.

But what happens when deepfakes look so realistic we can no longer separate fact from fiction? We’re just about there. Artificial intelligence programs and studies are tracking how we age (remember the fallout from the Facebook 10-year challenge?), convince us to offer up our own photos willingly so for a brief moment we can remember that no one is exempt from aging (it’s cool, everyone’s doing it!), and even attempts to label us based on what machines have learned about humanity so far.

My ImageNet Upload

My ImageNet Upload

And at the risk of sounding like someone who’s ready to go off the grid, is there any hope for a semblance of privacy in the future? Instead of trying to abandon technology completely and dreaming of regressing to a simpler time, a Polish design studio has simply innovated. The project began by exploring ways to protect a face against recognition algorithms used in cameras installed in public spaces.

After studying how to trick the DeepFace algorithm used by Facebook, the result is a conceptual jewelry mask that makes human faces unrecognizable. Designer Ewa Nowak calls it “Incognito” and intentional or not, the studio is pushing fashion forward, accepting that technology will press on but we can use innovative design to preserve some privacy the rest of the world abandoned long ago.

As someone who has always been an early adopter to any new forms of connection and sharing, I’ve thought very little about what I’m giving up. You need my face? Sure. Please, tell me, what would you label me? (Turns out before ImageNet stopped accepting uploads, it thought I was an enchantress. Which I’m okay with. Others weren’t so lucky.)

Sometimes I don’t even mind when I say a brand or product out loud and ads start popping up on Instagram. It’s how I found Soludos, Everlane, Mejuri and more.  I want to connect, I want to know what’s cool and trending in tech, and mostly, I don’t want to get left behind. But maybe now I’ll be a little more cautious moving forward, check my settings, try to be cognizant of who or what I allow to track me. And I might be one of the first to invest in that Incognito mask.
It just plain looks cool.