Say “goodbye” to Tom Cruise and “hello” to Chief of the Department of PreCrime, John Anderton, because the world depicted in the movie, “Minority Report” may become a reality. From fingerprints to holograms, emerging technologies are rapidly gaining momentum in banking, shopping, socializing and now voting. Unlike the politics of the past, voting and campaign processes of the future will be much more automated, and the technological innovations will change democracy.
Holograms are not just for “Star Wars” Emperor Palpatine anymore. In fact, the use of hologram technology in politics was pioneered in 2014 by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who campaigned successfully appearing live in 3-D at multiple rallies across the subcontinent simultaneously. In doing so, he was able to reach a vast population in a short amount of time, a feat any politician would welcome. In future elections, politicians can take this technology to the next level, providing tailored messages to voters door-to-door, according to David Plouffe, former assistant to the President and Senior Advisor in Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign.
Electronic voting could become the predominant method of voting in the near future in the United States and Canada. Already used in some 31 countries today, technologies include Direct Recording Electronic Systems, Electronic Ballot Printers, Optical Mark Recognition and Internet Voting Systems. These technologies demonstrate advantages because they “create opportunities for a more inclusive election process,” according to the National Democratic Institute. For example, voters with visual impairments can use audio technology for explanation of the process, or they can adjust font size to better read the ballot. Voters who don’t speak English could choose an option to vote in a language they prefer. And eligible voters residing in other countries, ex-patriots working overseas and military personnel, could dispense with absentee ballots.
Biometric data, such as fingerprints, can be used for voter ID and for marking electronic ballots in the near future. Some countries are already adopting this strategy. For example, more than 21 million fingerprint identifications were used by voters to verify their identity in Brazil’s 2014 national elections. The Electoral Court System in Brazil aims to achieve 100% voter participation using biometrics by 2018.
Known as IR, this method of recognition uses the unique shape of your eye’s iris to identify you. The FBI already considers IR a quick, accurate form of identification. It could eventually become a U.S. law enforcement standard for ID. Maybe it can replace fingerprints. In any case, it conceivably can be used to confirm voter ID for the voting process.
Starting this summer, Wells Fargo is unrolling a new face and voice recognition system for its customers’ sign-on. Users will login by framing their face within a box on their smartphone screen and then they will be asked to read a series of numbers. According to NEC.com facial recognition is believed to be superior to many other identity markers because it requires no physical contact. It’s no stretch to see it one day becoming a method of verification for Internet voting.
Once your biometric data is in a government database it is conceivable that the information could be used for targeted campaigning during election cycles. Imagine walking into a store, having your face recognized at the door, your identity confirmed and your voting record in past elections accessible. Could you end up being besieged by holograms of political candidates interacting with you while you shop or visit an office? Without privacy constraints such an outcome is possible in the near future.
The privacy concerns regarding all of the technological innovations described above are substantial. And as new technologies emerge to make voting more automated, so will we see greater vulnerability to the hacking of the electoral process. Expect online security and identity theft protection to become even more prevalent as a result.
(Originally published at http://www.21stcentech.com/future-voting-holograms-fingerprints-iris-scans/)