The Politics of Facial Recognition System: The biased History of Algorithms

Kamran Behrouz

Kamran Behrouz is a non-binary visual artist, born and raised in Tehran, currently working and living in Zurich. His PhD, entitled Cosmopolitics of the Body, uses posthuman critical theory as a navigational tool to examine the boundaries of bodies and humanity’s embedded and embodied cultures. Politics of image center his visual practices, transfigured in his theoretical works, as cultural translations and textual trafficking.

This visual essay was presented at the workshop: Code, Layers, Infrastructures as part of the New Alphabet School #3 Coding. Convened by Loren BrittonIsabel PaehrJörn Röder and Kamran Behrouz alongside a live discussion with the avatar and participants about the politics of FRS in India and in global scale at The Common Room Foundation, New Delhi.

The aim of this argument is to unfold and decode the inherit racial biases and structural racism in FRS (facial recognition systems) through re-reading the essay: Picturing Algorithmic Surveillance co-written by Lucas D. Introna and David Wood1 after almost two decades.

History of technoscience is indeed shaped around colonial visions. As Donna Haraway in “modest witness” mentioned: “anti-Semitism and misogyny intensified in the Renaissance and Scientific Revolution of early modern Europe, that racism and colonialism flourished in the traveling habits of the cosmopolitan Enlightenment, and that the intensified misery of billions of men and women seems organically rooted in the freedoms of transnational capitalism and technoscience.” 2