Minority Report is still, without question, an amazing slice of science fiction. But how close are we in 2016 to the PreCrime nightmare Tom Cruise faces in that Steven Spielberg classic? For those with a penchant for imagining the worst case scenario, a recent announcement from the software pioneers at Mattersight just might be enough to inspire immediate concern regarding a dystopian future.
The brand announced its first video analytics patent last week, combining facial expression analysis with their own "innovative speech analytics tool" to effectively predict human behavior based on the personality and emotions displayed in videos readily available online. "Voice analysis gives us a deep understanding of personality," Chris Danson, Mattersight's Chief Technology Officer, said in a press release. "By combining the many non-verbal visual cues from the recorded video of an individual with linguistic analysis of the related audio, we can gain even deeper insights into that individual's personality and emotional state."
The self-described "customer experience solution," officially known as Predictive Video Analytics System & Method, is being touted as the next big leap for future-minded advertisers hoping to increase engagement with potential customers in the face of mounting distractions and an increasingly competitive playing field. Though its intended use is for hungry advertisers, Predictive Video's potential for hijacking by, say, overzealous police departments presents a unique obstacle for the burgeoning field in the years ahead.
The rapidly improving technology surrounding facial recognition has spawned an entire industry of developers eager to push the field in a specific direction, either for the advancement of advertising or, in the case of Russian startup FindFace, the advancement of tracking someone's info down by simply snapping a photo and uploading it:
The advent of Mattersight, FindFace, and similar companies seemingly on the cusp of multiple technological breakthroughs comes just as the controversy surrounding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s own facial recognition program has started to garner renewed interest. The Next Generation Identification system, according to a breakdown from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, builds on the bureau's preexisting fingerprint database by adding multiple forms of biometric data, i.e. iris scans, palm prints, and facial recognition data. So, um, the FBI and your favorite and/or least favorite advertisers may have a thing or two in common.
According to Danson, Mattersight's innovations will allow "better, more precise" predictions about what prospective customers find most attractive by a particular brand. But Predictive Video's potential for abuse can't help but have a lot of people understandably sweating it.
More accurate, less annoying advertising? Very here for it. Living like Tom Cruise in Minority Report? The cars and clothes in that movie were fucking cool but, um, nah. Not here for it.
Mattersight did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.