Move Over Sci-Fi, Identity Intelligence Is Going Mainstream
I have always been fascinated with the imagination and creativity that goes into sci-fi movies. It is thrilling to get lost in worlds where complex technologies reach unprecedented heights. But what is even more incredible to me is the fact that this type of innovation is no longer restricted to the big screen. In particular, identity intelligence is going mainstream in real life by leveraging the vast capabilities of biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced data analytics. But along the way, we’re going to have to overcome some substantial challenges.
Identity Intelligence on the Big Screen
To get perspective on just how amazing our current technologies are, let’s take a look at what the movies have given us in terms of advanced identity intelligence.
Back to the Future: Part II (1989) – Here, the power of fingerprints was used to unlock doors and gain access to high security areas … giving birth to “thumb-bandits” who would amputate digits.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – Terminators have capabilities to perform facial recognition from far distances and calculate a lot of environmental data. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees a red screen with a targeting system that not only identifies the target (biometrics), but provides biographical details and a recommended course of action (AI) to ensure the survival of John Connor.
Minority Report (2002) – Yet another favorite scene of mine is from Minority Report, where Tom Cruise’s character is bombarded with targeted animated advertisements as he walks through a mall – the ads are shown based on a scan of his retina. Later on, he actually replaces his own eyeballs to avoid detection by others.
District 9 (2009) – This movie showcases the use of DNA to fire guns, thus preventing misuse by another species. The gun’s trigger can only be unlocked by DNA of the “rightful” owner.
Identity Intelligence in the Mainstream
These cool biometric, AI, and analytic technologies are breaking out of the cinema and going mainstream in full-fledged identity intelligence solutions. For instance, mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay allow users to make credit card payments online and at physical points of sale by use biometric authentication for security. Apple Pay leverages the iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor to ensure a payment is being made by the authorized user, while Samsung Pay gives users the option to shop by scanning their irises. (Fortunately, we haven’t seen an equivalent increase in thumb-bandits or eye-bandits!)
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Consider border security: Australia intends to provide a seamless travel experience at its airports by using biometrics. Airport Technology reports, “At the start of this year, Australia’s border authorities announced an ambitious plan to roll out biometric identification across all their international airports by 2020. In a ‘world first,’ international travellers entering the country will be processed via a completely unmanned system that uses fingerprints, iris, and facial recognition.” This initiative will definitely help reduce long wait times as travellers literally get to proceed “document-free” – all while securing the airports in a more efficient manner.
And then there is one of the most far-reaching plans of all: China’s Sharp Eyes, a pilot implementation of facial recognition coupled with AI that is being used in China for surveillance. The Washington Post states that the intent of Sharp Eyes is “to connect the security cameras that already scan roads, shopping malls and transport hubs with private cameras on compounds and buildings, and integrate them into one nationwide surveillance and data-sharing platform.” Using this platform, China aims to track “where people are, what they are up to, what they believe, and who they associate with.” This information can be used for a wide range of purposes, including the support of crime-fighting efforts and the coordination of emergency services. This initiative, while intended for the greater good, is a little disconcerting from a data privacy perspective.
Overcoming Identity Intelligence Challenges
Having focused on identity intelligence technologies to enable citizen services, help secure our borders, and implement a myriad of other applications, it is clear that identity intelligence is going to play an increasingly large role for us all – not on the screen, but in real life. However, deploying identity intelligence at scale has its challenges, such as:
- Addressing the ethics involved in gathering and using biometric data
- Maintaining privacy for the individual, which is of utmost importance
- Securing proprietary data to keep it from reaching the wrong hands
- Preventing identity-spoofing and fraud
- Addressing the variability the human factor presents, particularly on noisy capture systems such as fingerprints, face, voice, and even iris
We at Unisys have developed and deployed identity management capabilities that help address the real-life concerns involved in deploying identity intelligence technologies successfully. Our capabilities include the following:
Multimodal Identity Framework – This solution provides a more accurate match based on multiple modalities spanning the facial recognition seen in Terminator, the iris scans used in Minority Report, and the DNA samples showcased in District 9. This is extremely important for use cases such as Australia’s border security plan, where the goal is to allow only good actors into the country and create a positive experience for consumers.
Context-sensitive Workflows – We are able to match biometrics to biographical data to reliably assign a unique identity to the owner, then determine the context and recommend a set of actions based on advanced data analytics and AI. This can be used to implement unique workflows that are organization-based, bringing agility and resiliency into identity intelligence. Such a capability would be important to “ensure the survival of John Connor” in Terminator 2, or to identify the right action as a passenger enters the airport per the Australian “Border Security” initiative.
Data Security – Through our Stealth security solutions, we can help ensure that data most likely will not fall into the wrong hands – a critical consideration for everything from gun control (District 9) to population control (China’s Sharp Eyes). Or, as an example closer to home, the OPM data breach.
Remote ID-proofing – This verifies that a person is who he says he is by using biometrics and validating the claimed credentials with authoritative sources, then provides the right level of access based on that identification. We can thank remote ID-proofing for preventing the rise of thumb amputation seen in Back to the Future 2. The worldwide adoption of mobile technologies combined with remote ID-proofing enables safe authentication for bona fide users anywhere they may happen to be.
When I look around and see how identity intelligence is being used to make people’s lives easier and to secure the world, I cannot help but think that there are no bounds to how we can imagine, innovate, and foster the ultimate customer experience. And I know this: Unisys will be at the forefront all the way.