When you go to a retail store, you often look at the mannequins to see how a garment looks on a body and think nothing of it. Did you realize that with increasing frequency, the mannequins will be watching you as well? As these three links explain, stores are purchasing and installing mannequins that are watching the customers to see if anyone is shoplifting. Presumably, if the Artificial Intelligence (AI) program in a mannequin sees something suspicious, it alerts the Loss Control Department to focus in on the suspicious customer activity. The first link shows how an AI-equipped mannequin can “see” quite well what is happening around it.
Also, AI can be used in mannequins (or any other AI-equipped platform) to function with Facial Recognition systems (FR) to monitor customers in all aspects of their shopping experience while in a store. In theory, such AI systems can inform store managers what items are attracting customers’ attention, what items stimulate little interest, etc. By understanding what customers want, store managers can stock more of the items that customers actually want to buy and discontinue items which simply take up space. Obviously, as these links note, this type of AI customer-monitoring program is designed to boost store profits. I can see how this would help store chains to comprehend much better the regional differences in shoppers’ preferences so they can adapt to those preferences. If that is all AI monitoring programs were designed and destined to do, I’d have no problem with it. Indeed, if shoplifting were eliminated entirely, it would be great for us honest customers as it would tend to lower prices if “product shrinkage” was no longer a problem. However, as I’ll explain below, I think we are heading toward a sinister future via this technology.
A few more words about installing AI systems in stores, however, is justified. An AI system can be installed in any kind of physical platform. It can be installed inside lighting systems and signage or even the shelves themselves. The mannequins are very publicly noticeable. Since the media has informed the public that AI systems can be watching them in store via mannequins, customers’ attentions are being programmed to look for AI systems in mannequins. However, the value of getting customers to expect AI monitoring systems in mannequins may direct shoplifters’ attention away from the AI devices which are really the most effective ones inside a store. Also, privacy concerns are a major factor. Since shoplifters can hide garments or store items inside their clothing, this situation practically screams out for AI systems to watch customers disrobe in fitting rooms. I can see voyeurs developing a desire to work in Loss Control Departments to monitor such monitoring systems. To prevent human voyeurism via AI systems, it seems to me that the same goals could be accomplished by having AI systems monitor how many garments or items are taken into a fitting room and sounding an alarm to someone only if the number of garments and items carried out of the fitting room does not match what was carried into the fitting room or left behind in it. Another item to consider is that just as “cookies” are placed on your activity in various computer websites to track all you do on the site, FR systems could do the same thing to monitor customers whenever they enter a store operated by the same company anywhere in the world. If you shop in a chain store in your home city and a FR system enters your facial profile into their AI tracking database, its AI tracking system will trigger a “recognition” of you whenever you enter a store operated by that company anywhere in the world. It will know your preferences, monitor your movements throughout the store, remember what you shop for and then build a customer profile of you to better market emailed advertisements appropriate to your particular preferences. Does this sound outlandish. It shouldn’t. One source states in the second link that “Walking through the doors [of a store] is just like walking into our website.” Their website doubtless has “tracking” cookies to monitor you. It is logical then to expect their FR systems to develop unique “cookies” to monitor you every time you shop at their stores equipped with this technology. While the final link is from 2016, the first two links are from several years prior to that so this technology has “matured” beyond what was publicly then released.
We are entering an age where AI monitoring devices will increasingly be “watching” you in all aspects of your life: the job, your home, public transportation localities, stores, etc. This could become incredibly invasive and, in the USA, make a joke out of Constitution’s 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The first sentence of the 4th Amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, and shall not be violated…” In our high-tech, digital world, the word “papers” should logically apply to all documents originating on or transmitted via computers or the internet. Having people monitored in their homes via appliances, utility devices, their TVs and computers, etc. doesn’t sound to me like it would pass any Constitutional muster. Are any legal or industry safeguards in place to stop unconstitutional digital searches and seizures? I doubt it.
Where are we headed? AI devices are being built into new appliances to monitor you inside your homes as well as provide conveniences to remind you of what to shop for, what is in low supply in your refrigerator, etc. I saw an ad on TV the other day that AI technology will be digitally integrated into your refrigerator to text you an update about your shopping needs when you visit the grocery store. Facial Recognition technology could eventually becoming integrated across all private and public locations to not only build a comprehensive profile of you but to monitor you on a 24/7 basis. It may be worth observing that if we are not in “the Matrix” already, we are headed in that direction (readers familiar with the Matrix movies will understand my comparison). Individual profiles can become so accurate that law enforcement agencies will be able to predict with high degrees of accuracy who is likely to commit a crime, who is exhibiting terrorist tendencies, etc. Governments will be able to see who is living “off the grid” by comparing stores’ FR patterns of their faces with records of FR resident databases. Perhaps all postal trucks and delivery service vehicles will be equipped with AI technology to provide widespread monitoring of neighborhood activities. Years ago, I read an article that police departments can install listening devices on light poles or traffic signs to hear what people are saying (if they “bust” a drug deal, they will need a warrant to use that conversation in court). However, they may not charge the lower people in a drug distribution ring, but use the captured conversation to follow the criminal connections to its source.
Biblically, I’m sure many readers know where I’m going with this. Revelation 13:11-18 prophesies that a malignant global government (or international system linking all governments) will come into existence which will be able to monitor all aspects of financial and monetary transactions. A global system that invasive will have to be using digital monitoring technologies. That the Bible accurately foretold that the latter days would have such a monitoring system for the global population confirms that the Bible had to be authored/inspired by a Creator God (Elohim) Being that could foretell and control the future. That Creator Being specifically tells humans in Isaiah 41:21-26 and 46:9-11 to look at his ability to bring to pass biblical prophecies as a proof of his invisible existence and sovereignty. The prophecies in the book of Revelation were written by the Apostle John who was whisked almost 2000 years into the future to “see” in a vision global events and activities that would happen in our time. John had to describe what he saw in the very low-tech words of his society which had no words for many of the things that he saw. He did a fairly good job of describing tanks, warplanes and armed helicopters in Revelation 9, but his description of the tracking/monitoring systems in Revelation 13:16-18 are open to many interpretations, and I’ve examined a number of them in previous posts (you can find them in my Blog Archives via keyword searches). John clearly saw a very high-tech, global monitoring system for all financial activities and point-of-sale transactions, but his description of this level of monitoring ability by governments argues he saw high-tech monitoring systems in use in all aspects of society. As technologies change, we must be willing to adapt our thinking of what John saw in Revelation 17-18 when he mentions there will be “markers” of some kind on people’s hands and foreheads. Could John have been seeing Facial Recognition technologies ubiquitously in use when he spoke of human activities in the latter days? Facial Recognition technologies do create all kinds of “markers” on a facial profile when they are seen via an electronic digital display. Did he see these technologies in use everywhere and simply used the term “forehead” as one of the most prominent aspects of a face being profiled? Remember that John “didn’t have a clue” about the latter-day technologies he was seeing in vision and he may have used inadequate words that came to him to try to describe what he was seeing.
Stay flexible regarding prophetic interpretations that involve events that are yet to take place. I do think AI and FR technologies give us insight into what John saw in Revelation 13. The Bible is proving to be extremely accurate in its prophecies not only in today’s societies but throughout history. My books, articles, speeches and blog detail how many biblical prophecies were fulfilled via the futures of all the tribes of Israel from the time of the patriarchs who gave birth to them, their time in the Holy Land in their glory days and after their exile as they founded new empires and kingdoms during their migrations. Genesis 28:10-15 records God’s promise to Jacob (latter re-named “Israel”) that his seed would eventually scatter across the earth in all four directions.That is exactly what has happened. You can order my printed books or E-book at my website’s homepage to see how God’s promises regarding the ten tribes of Israel were fulfilled over the millennia. To have a brief insight into how much vital information about our modern world is actually found in the Bible, please read my articles, Are We Living in the Biblical Latter Days? and The USA in Biblical Prophecy.