Researchers are hard at work on systems for identifying people based on their physical characteristics. The aim is to do a better job of verifying who you are for situations like crossing national borders or conducting financial transactions, or to ferret out your identity if you refuse to identify yourself to police. There are already huge biometric databases full of fingerprints, face scans, and genetic material. As iris and palm-vein scanners become more widespread, so will the number of database records based on those features.

Last year, Anil Jain, a Michigan State University computer science professor and coauthor of ”A Touch of Money” in the July 2006 issue of IEEE Spectrum , expanded the field of biometrics when he announced he had begun work on an automated tattoo recognition system that will allow authorities to identify people more quickly and accurately based on the ink embedded under their skin. Jain points out that tattoos and other marks cannot uniquely identify a person. But he says that his system will still be valuable because of its ability to help authorities narrow down the list of identities to which they’ll compare a suspect they have in custody.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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