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by Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker

For most of us, architecture is easy to take for granted. It’s everywhere in our daily lives—sometimes elegant, other times shabby, but generally ubiquitous. How often do we stop to examine and contemplate its form and style? Stopping for that contemplation offers not only the opportunity to understand one’s daily surroundings, but also to appreciate the connection that exists between architectural forms in our own time and those from the past. Architectural tradition and design has the ability to link disparate cultures together over time and space—and this is certainly true of the legacy of architectural forms created by the ancient Greeks.

The Erechtheion, 421-405 B.C.E. (Classical Greek), Acropolis, Athens (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Where and when

Greek architecture refers to the architecture of the Greek-speaking peoples who inhabited the Greek mainland and the Peloponnese, the islands of the Aegean Sea, the Greek colonies in Ionia (coastal Asia Minor), and Magna Graecia (Greek colonies in Italy and Sicily).

Greek architecture stretches from c. 900 B.C.E. to the first century C.E. (with the earliest extant stone architecture dating to the seventh century B.C.E.).

Greek architecture influenced Roman architecture and architects in profound ways, such that Roman Imperial architecture adopts and incorporates many Greek elements into its own practice.

An overview of basic building typologies demonstrates the range and diversity of Greek architecture.

“Hera II,” c. 460 B.C.E., 24.26 x 59.98 m, Greek, Doric temple from the classical period likely dedicated to Hera, Paestum (Latin) previously Poseidonia (photo: Steven Zucker , CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The most recognizably “Greek” structure is the temple (even though the architecture of Greek temples is actually quitediverse). The Greeks referred to temples with the term ὁ ναός ( ho naós ) meaning “dwelling,”temple derives from the Latin term, templum . The earliest shrines were built to honor divinities and were made frommaterials such as a wood and mud brick—materialsthat typically don’t survive very long. The basic form of the naos (the interior room that held the cult statue of the God or Gods) emerges as early as the tenth century B.C.E. as a simple, rectangular room with projecting walls ( antae ) that created a shallow porch. This basic form remained unchanged in its concept for centuries. In the eighth century B.C.E.Greek architecture beginsto make the move from ephemeral materials (wood, mud brick, thatch) to permanent materials (namely, stone).

During the Archaic period the tenets of the Doric order of architecture in the Greek mainland became firmly established, leading to a wave of monumental temple building during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.E. Greek city-states invested substantial resources in temple building—as they competed with each other not just in strategic and economic terms, but also in their architecture. For example, Athens devoted enormous resources to the construction of theacropolis in the 5th century B.C.E.—in part so that Athenians could be confidentthat the temples built to honor their gods surpassed anything that their rival states could offer.

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Brian Brackeen Contributor
Brian Brackeen is the chief executive officer of the facial recognition software developer Kairos .

Recent news of Amazon’s engagement with law enforcement to provide facial recognition surveillance (branded “Rekognition”), along with the almost unbelievable news of China’s use of the technology, means that the technology industry needs to address the darker, more offensive side of some of its more spectacular advancements.

Facial recognition technologies, used in the identification of suspects, negatively affects people of color. To deny this fact would be a lie.

And clearly, facial recognition-powered government surveillance is an extraordinary invasion of the privacy of all citizens — and a slippery slope to losing control of our identities altogether.

There’s really no “nice” way to acknowledge these things.

I’ve been pretty clear about the potential dangers associated with current racial biases in face recognition , and open in my opposition to the use of the technology in law enforcement.

As the black chief executive of a software company developing facial recognition services, I have a personal connection to the technology, both culturally and socially.

Having the privilege of a comprehensive understanding of how the software works gives me a unique perspective that has shaped my positions about its uses. As a result, I (and my company) have come to believe that the use of commercial facial recognition in law enforcement or in government surveillance of any kind is wrong — and that it opens the door for gross misconduct by the morally corrupt.

To be truly effective, the algorithms powering facial recognition software require a massive amount of information. The more images of people of color it sees, the more likely it is to properly identify them. The problem is, existing software has not been exposed to enough images of people of color to be confidently relied upon to identify them.

And misidentification could lead to wrongful conviction, or far worse.

Let’s say the wrong person is held in a murder investigation. Let’s say you’re taking someone’s liberty and freedoms away based on what the system thinks, and the system isn’t fairly viewing different races and different genders. That’s a real problem, and it needs to be answered for.

There is no place in America for facial recognition that supports false arrests and murder.

In a social climate wracked with protests and angst around disproportionate prison populations and police misconduct, engaging software that is clearly not ready for civil use in law enforcement activities does not serve citizens, and will only lead to further unrest.

Whether or not you believe government surveillance is okay, using commercial facial recognition in law enforcement is irresponsible and dangerous.

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