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Why Facial Recognition is The Best Biometric

By Hoan Ton-That BLOG

Identification is the bedrock of societal organization and cooperation. In the early days of small-scale societies, everyone knew each other, making it easy to know who bad actors in the community were. However, with urbanization, population growth, and the advent of globalization, this intimate knowledge of individuals becomes impossible, making it crucial to find effective ways to aid in identifying individuals, particularly those who pose threats to societal order and harmony.

Biometrics, or the identification of individuals based on their physical or behavioral characteristics, has long been used for identification. Fingerprints, with their unique patterns, have historically been the favored biometric identifier. However, with the advancements in technology, facial recognition has rapidly emerged as a superior alternative. This essay will explore why facial recognition technology is the best type of biometric, outperforming iris recognition and even the historically prevalent fingerprinting.


The ancient history of fingerprints is intertwined with the development of early societies, serving not only as a means of identification but also as a catalyst for fostering trust and enabling trade across borders. Notably, the Spanish explorer Joao de Barros documented that early Chinese merchants employed fingerprints to seal and authenticate business transactions, establishing credibility and accountability in their dealings. Additionally, the 14th-century Persian book "Jaamehol-Tawarikh" attests to the use of fingerprints for individual identification. This antiquated use of fingerprints extends back to 500 B.C., as evinced by the Babylonian clay tablets recording business transactions marked with fingerprints. These historical instances demonstrate the long-standing recognition of fingerprints as a unique, personal signature across diverse cultures and civilizations.

In more recent history, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) under J. Edgar Hoover popularized the use of fingerprints and championed their scientific accuracy for their use in criminal investigations.


Facial recognition has seen impressive progress in its accuracy and scalability over the last decade. While facial recognition technology started as a novel experiment on social media platforms like Facebook for photo tagging, it has become a critical tool in law enforcement, border control, and commercial settings. With the advent of deep learning and neural networks, the performance of facial recognition systems improved dramatically, achieving unprecedented accuracy levels. The popularity of the iPhone X, with its Face ID feature that launched in 2017, caused mass adoption and acceptance of facial recognition in consumer products.

Clearview AI has taken it a step further, achieving one-in-a-billion search accuracy in 2019, and currently over 30 billion images in our database of publicly available images.

Facial Recognition History

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