ALARM bells rang when, in a recent edition of the Olive Press, I read about Spanish computer software that can gauge a person’s personality from the structural features of his face.
Evidently, researchers believe that they can anticipate behaviour patterns by measuring the dimensions of the human face.
It wasn’t that long ago that a couple of German chaps, called Adolf Hitler and Josef Mengele, were also very interested in determining behavioral traits from physical characteristics.
Back then it was called eugenics, nowadays it is known as the pseudoscience of physiognomy.
What surprises me most in this recent research is that eugenics was generally abandoned by the end of World War II.
The notion of identifying physical traits that would point to racial purity was undermined by the scientific community at large.
Proponents of eugenics argued that its application was to encourage reproduction of certain peoples and traits in the longer term interest of the human race.
By definition this implies that reproduction by those who did not score highly on the eugenic scale was to be discouraged.
I seem to recall that Mr Hitler had some thoughts about how this might be achieved – the appalling term “enforced racial hygiene” comes to mind.
I am quite certain that the Spanish researchers who have developed what they no doubt believe is marvellous software will not be pursuing the racial purity line.
Unfortunately there are those in our midst who might take a different view and who might see the application of computer-generated personality profiles as a way to a better and purer future.
Unfortunately it’s not possible to un-discover what may turn out to be dangerous technology.
Keeping it out of the hands of maniacs is the challenge.