The fiasco that is the 'ageviewer'

Say you're in Holland and you want to buy some liquor at your local liquor store. The procedure that some stores have now chosen to adopt is as follows: 1. select your beverage of choice, 2. go to the cashier, 3. have your face scanned by a device that decides whether or not you're old enough to purchase alcoholic drinks. This magical system is called the Ageviewer (pardon the Dutch).

Obviously you are thinking right now: "How in the world does that system know how old I am?!?". Does the system run a face recognition system linked to citizen data? Does it do something even more advanced by estimating the age based on facial features? It does in fact none of those things: the image is sent to a company located somewhere else, where a HUMAN BEING stares at a screen the whole day and determines whether the person in the photo is of age or not. Let me emphasize that again for you: in this 21st century filled with wonderful technology like smartphones, augmented reality, instant real-time translation, a global communication network and whatnot, a little old lady is looking at a screen the whole day pressing 2 buttons: 1 for minor, 1 for adult. Three cheers for technology.

Do I really need to explain how utterly ridiculous this system is? Probably not, but I'll do it anyway. First of all, there is absolutely no point in having your age verified by this system if it could just as easily be verified by the person behind the counter. I mean, what's the point of asking someone else to estimate a person's age when you can just ask people for ID? It's not like the photo-identifying 'professionals' have had a university education in recognizing children from adults. Come on... The only purpose I can see for this system is for when the cashier is too scared to refuse the customer or ask for ID. In that case a dummy system would work just as well, since you only have to pretend that the system doesn't let you sell it to the customer. Besides these common-sense reasons there's also a potential privacy issue here if the face-scanning company keeps records of the faces in its system.

This entire project is just a blatant insult to everything and everyone. It insults the store owner by implying he can't tell minors from adults. It insults the people that are working full-time to identify faces by making them do a ridiculously silly task that could just as well be done by a computer. Which leads me to the next insult: this  project is an insult to software engineers who would have been perfectly capable of solving a problem like this. And by 'a problem like this' I mean the problem of effectively verifying someone's age, not necessarily by face recognition, as I can see that would present some very difficult challenges. The whole system is a luddite solution for a non-existent problem. If only they had let some creative hackers loose on the problem, it could have been so much better..

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