April 25, 2016

Being unable to identify a face

What if one day you were to wake up in the morning and you realize that you are unable to recognize people around you? What if all the faces around you looked equal? It would be terrible, wouldn’t it? Well, about 2% of the world’s population experience this, and they suffer from a rare condition known as “prosopagnosia”.

But what is prosopagnosia?

Prosopagnosia prevents the proper distinction of people’s faces, and can cause a serious problem in their life. The etymological origin of the word comes from the Greek “prosopon” (something like what is placed in front of the face and has subsequently resulted in the word “person”) and “agnosia” (or lack of knowledge).

Comparing this to the steps of automatic people’s facial recognition, we could say that someone with prosopagnosia is able to detect faces, but not to identify them. So he is not able to compare it against his database of known people. The diseased person will try to use other distinctive features of the person, perhaps a mole, a certain haircut, a tic, etc.

Yes, it can be prevented

In this regard, there is the question of why many Governments or Security Forces still suffer from prosopagnosia. In fact, if it were a disease attributable to public bodies that ensure our safety, the percentage of diseased would be far superior of that found in humans.

Today, facial recognition technologies are so advanced that they enable you to find someone in a crowd with frankly amazing success rates. Knowing this, it is difficult to understand why this technology is still not being commonly used at places such as airports, train stations, sport stadiums, border controls…

The world is moving in new paths where security plays an important role. Therefore, we should ask the leaders to be able to find a cure for this strange disease, which could limit our daily life significantly. Proposagnosia must be eradicated.

Written by: Javier Rodríguez Saeta

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