Sunday musings: Point of facial recognition, self-driving safety, you need a travel advisor

facial recognitionToday we look at facial recognition and whether in itself it can provide total surveillance. This article argues facial recognition is one part of the overall infrastructure. We look at the implementation of self-driving operations as step-by-step autonomous driving development. Finally, we examine what a travel (advisor) agent can provide today’s travelers.

If we’re banning facial recognition, we’re missing the rest of the surveillance infrastructure.

According to this article from the New York Times, facial recognition is only one part of the overall surveillance systems being developed in Russia, China, governments, and corporations across the planet. The continued perfection of technology allows the identification of people by heartbeat, gait, and fingerprints, among other methods.

…facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing on one particular identification method misconstrues the nature of the surveillance society we’re in the process of building. Ubiquitous mass surveillance is increasingly the norm. In countries like China, a surveillance infrastructure is being built by the government for social control. In countries like the United States, it’s being built by corporations in order to influence our buying behavior, and is incidentally used by the government.

Facial recognition is a technology that can be used to identify people without their knowledge or consent. It relies on the prevalence of cameras, which are becoming both more powerful and smaller, and machine learning technologies that can match the output of these cameras with images from a database of existing photos.

But that’s just one identification technology among many. People can be identified at a distance by their heartbeat or by their gait, using a laser-based system. Cameras are so good that they can read fingerprints and iris patterns from meters away. And even without any of these technologies, we can always be identified because our smartphones broadcast unique numbers called MAC addresses. Other things identify us as well: our phone numbers, our credit card numbers, the license plates on our cars. China, for example, uses multiple identification technologies to support its surveillance state.

READ ALSO: Hotel safety is still primarily on the shoulders of guests

Transportation safety is priority number one 

Automated Vehicle Technologies (AV) continue to grow but are not yet advanced enough to guarantee safety and nationwide deployment. However, more and more parts of the AV technologies can be found in automobiles on the road today. Blind-Spot Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic Emergency Braking, just to mention a few.

5 Ways to Avoid Flight Delays DownloadIn the interest of clarity for consumers, and to help drivers better understand what the various ADAS systems do, today the U.S. Department of Transportation is supporting consistency in ADAS terminology. Initiatives such as “Clearing the Confusion,” spearheaded by the National Safety Council, AAA, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, are based on ADAS system functionality. Currently, there is variance among manufacturers. We want to make sure that drivers are aware that these systems are designed to “assist,” not replace an engaged driver.

Next steps for this technology include vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

ALSO ON TRAVELERS UNITED BLOG: 5 forbidden words when using a travel agent

5 reasons why you need a travel agent — more than ever

Why do we still have travel agents (or travel advisors)? The advent of Internet travel websites should have eliminated the need for travel agents. Disintermiation became the buzzword of the ’90s when it came to travel. But travel agents are not disappearing. Here are five reasons why we still have travel agents and how you can use them. This is my synopsis of the article.

Emergencies — There are always emergencies when traveling. Travel advisors can help.

First off, you actually have someone to call, versus long lines at banks of airport phones masquerading as “help desks.” But good agencies are constantly monitoring their clients’ flights and they usually know about your problem before you do – and often have a resolution before you even call them. They also have direct access to airline GDS (global distribution system) and don’t have to wait on long phones holds to get ticketing changes made.

Click here to subscribeExpertise — You need an advisor who is an expert in how you travel.

Good travel advisors do not just know what the best hotel is. They know what the best hotel is for you and your budget and can help you find the right fit. As we will see shortly, they can also save you a lot of money, no matter what style you travel in.

VIP Connections — Travel agents have connections normal travelers do not

There is no substitute for personal connections. The best agents have built connections over years or decades. Plus, we are living in the age of “experiential travel.” Good advisors create one-of-a-kind experiences most people would never have imagined in the first place.

Extras — for the same price individuals can find

When you get more than you expected for the same price, that’s a great deal. With travel advisors this happens all the time. The cruise industry is a perfect example of very large inventories that fluctuate in supply and demand each week. The large audience of repeat customers who cruise again and again for years means may opportunities for savings.

One of the biggest shortcuts to freebies and extras is Virtuoso, a network of top tier travel agencies, most in the luxury realm.

Air — Save thousands of dollars by using travel advisors

When it comes to using miles, or miles and money, or just paying to fly in pricier premium classes, you might have trouble believing the miracles these specialists can work.