Gemma Styles: KFC In Beijing Is Using Facial Recognition Technology To Predict Your Order – Is This Progress?

And the award for most pointless use of technology goes to... PHOTO BY MATILDA HILL-JENKINS

Gemma Styles: KFC In Beijing Is Using Facial Recognition Technology To Predict Your Order - Is This Progress?

by Gemma Styles |
Published on

Isn’t it exciting, the age we live in? While there are lots of people in the world doing very questionable things, we can always rely on the fact that there are others, squirrelled away in labs, cooking up technologies that would have been unimaginable only years ago.

Sadly, one piece of tech news hitting the papers this week struck me as a little less groundbreaking. I mean, I guess it is breaking new ground in the way that people haven't done it before but, I guess I feel like nobody asked them to dig there…? A KFC restaurant in Beijing has launched a new digital ordering service based on facial recognition; teaming up with Baidu (a.k.a. 'China’s Google') they have developed the machine, which essentially analyses at your face and predicts what you might like to order based on things like age, gender and mood as well as the time of day.

1.Errr, why should gender have anything to do with what you want to eat for lunch?


The weeks and months that will have been spent on developing the technology/code/design for the machine - what an incredible waste of talented minds. Telling you what someone of your vague demographic is expected to order? Who cares! When you walk into a fast food place, you probably have some idea of what you’re looking for - why do you need a machine to tell you what you might fancy? Why should gender matter? Journalist Amy Hawkins tested out the machine in the Beijing restaurantand was identified as female, beautiful and in her 30s. They got her age wrong - good start - but what’s more concerning to me is the ‘beautiful’ part. Are they trying to flatter people into super sizing their breakfast? Are they seriously looking at some people and saying 'You’re not very attractive. Here’s some chicken that ugly people might like?

Honestly, this feels like madness. Are we really moving forward in developing our technologies when they’re designed to fulfil a need that was never present in the first place? The facial recognition might help if you’re a regular customer who orders the same thing - but if you always order the same thing then why would you need to spend extra time having your face monitored to tell you that? In a time where data is becoming more key and more profitable, are we about to enter a twilight zone where hackers are trying to access your chicken preference records?

I think what it boils down to is that, just because we can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean we should. Yes, it’s a KFC project, so the money they’ve spent on it was unlikely to ever go towards curing cancer or perfecting electronic limbs - but the futility of the whole exercise is so frustrating to me. There are smart people being hired to predict what kind of burger you want to eat; just think about all the good they could be doing in other places if only that’s what they were being hired for.

**Liked this? You might also be interested in: **

Why Your Perfect Instagram Is A Big Fat Lie

Is Now The Perfect Time To Have A Digital Detox?

Nothing Makes My Instagram FOMO Worse Than Summer

Follow Gemma on Twitter @GemmaAnneStyles

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us