Three art museums in Italy have begun to use AI-enabled camera systems to read visitors’ facial expressions and determine which artworks are most popular. The facial recognition technology, visible to visitors as cameras on the walls with disclaimers, is used at museums in Rome, Bologna, and Parma. The tech can detect information such as gender, age, eye movements, and the five primary facial expressions: happy, sad, neutral, surprised, and angry. The technology’s co-creator, Riccardo Scipinotti, has stated that most of the expressions analyzed so far have been neutral.

Critics, however, are not happy. They have pointed out privacy issues and argue that the results may be inaccurate, biased, and limited as facial expressions are more nuanced and can be misleading. For example, a smile or a grimace could mean different things to different people and cultures. In response to the privacy issues, Scipinotti stated that the system is privacy-friendly and only records numbers for analysis without saving any of the images.

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