I recently went on a trip to Ireland and learnt that the info Google collects on you is a) useful and b) terrifying. A couple of days before I left I was absentmindedly scrolling though the green rolling mountains of East Kerry on Google Maps to try and get my bearings. There I stumbled across the very guest house I was due to be staying, labelled with the dates I was staying there. On zooming out - this tag stayed in placed. It really freaked me out - it meant my gmail was scanned for trip details and added to my google maps app - but, at the same time, it was actually pretty useful for figuring out how far I would have to travel when planning day trips.
So when does the convenience of a connected world start to become worrying? This FTView looks into the very real possibility that facial recognition could mean stores and online shopping recognise the customer and then manipulate pricing and offers for the customer's purchasing habits.
These are the cookies you can never delete. And frankly that scares me quite a lot.
Facial recognition also may appear in a store near you, in the form of “dynamic pricing”. Supermarkets are replacing paper price tags with digital screens to avoid manually relabelling for price changes. Imagine if the prices changed based on the identity of the shopper, picked out by a camera at the store entrance. Does this sound too farfetched? Travel sites allegedly charge more when they detect the search patterns of a determined buyer. Amazon already changes prices quickly on the basis of demand. Economists call this price discrimination. With a set price, consumers who could have paid more capture surplus value. In a world of tailored pricing, this discount vanishes, increasing returns for sellers at the expense of buyers.