Future Schlock: Even Our High Tech Facial-Recognition Nightmares Are Pissy And Stupid
When science fiction writers think about ways in which exotic computer technology threatens to make life worse, the results tend to involve intrusions into people's rights, post-apocalyptic hellscapes, robots running amok, that sort of thing. Documentaries about the threats of technology warn that facial recognition might be used to suppress dissidents in China or Russia, or to arbitrarily grab innocent people off the street because they look like a criminal suspect.
But today, we have a tech gone mad story from New York City that's a lot more Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy than "Black Mirror." A woman who wanted to go along with her daughter's Girl Scout troop to see the Rockettes' "Christmas Spectacular" at Radio City Music Hall the weekend after Thanksgiving was barred from attending the show because facial recognition software identified her and determined she was on the no-admission list. It wasn't a case of mistaken identity, at least.
Is Kelly Conlon a terrorist? A criminal? A mean critic who's panned the high-kicking dance line show? One of those monsters who unwraps crinkly cough drop cellophane at the opera?
Far worse: As NBC 4 New York explains, Conlon is a lawyer, and the facial recognition system at Radio City identified her as a known enemy of Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG), the venue's owner. The system pegged Conlon as
an associate with the New Jersey based law firm, Davis, Saperstein and Salomon, which for years has been involved in personal injury litigation against a restaurant venue now under the umbrella of MSG Entertainment.
Conlon explained to the TV station that she isn't involved in the litigation against MSG, and doesn't even practice in New York. But she was on the wrong team, so no Rockettes for her. Her daughter and the other Girl Scouts were allowed to see the show, but Conlon had to wait outside.
MSG Entertainment issued a statement — possibly written by a very pissy AI — explaining that Conlon should have known better than to step onto MSG turf, given that she rolls with Davis, Saperstein and Salomon:
"MSG instituted a straightforward policy that precludes attorneys pursuing active litigation against the Company from attending events at our venues until that litigation has been resolved. While we understand this policy is disappointing to some, we cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adverse environment. All impacted attorneys were notified of the policy, including Davis, Saperstein and Salomon, which was notified twice," a spokesperson for MSG Entertainment said in a statement.
Given that attorneys and a great big entertainment conglomerate are involved, things proceeded to get silly. Sam Davis, a partner at the law firm where Conlon works, accused MSG of creating a "scheme" that's nothing more than a "pretext for doing collective punishment on adversaries who would dare sue MSG in their multi-billion dollar network," which is certainly one way to calm down a corporate feud. NBC 4 reports that other law firms have actually sued over the exclusion policy, and Conlon herself was under the impression that a recent judge's ruling meant that employees of law firms couldn't be prevented from attending shows at MSG venues.
Naturally enough, Davis is now pursuing a challenge against MSG's state liquor license, because this facial-recognition aggression will not stand, man. Amateur theater groups may one day stage dramatic readings of this stuff:
"The liquor license that MSG got requires them to admit members of the public, unless there are people who would be disruptive who constitute a security threat," said Davis. "Taking a mother, separating a mother from her daughter and Girl Scouts she was watching over — and to do it under the pretext of protecting any disclosure of litigation information — is absolutely absurd. The fact they’re using facial recognition to do this is frightening. It’s un-American to do this."
MSG remains defiant, and for all we know has challenged Davis and Conlon to duel against its giant robot attorneys.
Image created using StableDiffusion AI
America, the future is here. And it's not so much terrifying as it is petty and annoying.
[NBC 4 New York / Image generated by DreamStudio Lite AI]
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.