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"The world is really so surreal these days that it's necessary for us to blunt it somehow in order to stay sane. The artist functions to short-circuit the buffering mechanism, so that people can occasionally perceive the weirdness of things as they are."
- William Gibson

Automated Sentry  
  A biometric device that scans facial features for identification.  

At this point in the novel, many people fear contagion. For this reason, machines that make use of face recognition biometrics are used in place of human beings; the automated sentry is a biometric identification system. Ironically, face recognition is probably the oldest means that humans have of recognizing each other.

The guard box stood empty. Something small and white moved back and forth behind smoked glass windows. A long steel tube jutted from the side. He used a handkerchief to wipe sweat from his cheeks and for head. The sweat was not just from the heat. He did not like this new role. He did not like secrets.

In particular, he did not like stepping into the belly of the beast.

Turner followed his gaze. "Nobody home," he said. "We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry." Dakin caught a glimpse of a grid of purple beams scooting over Turner's face, then his own.

A green light glowed beside the gate.

"You are who we say you are, Dr. Dakin," Turner said.

From Darwin's Children, by Greg Bear.
Published by Del Rey in 2003
Additional resources -

This is one of many places in the book where machines are used to sense danger. In a way, the automated Sentry is an analogy to the biological laboratory devices used in the story. The fact that "normal" people use mechanical devices to sense what other people are, and where danger is, forms an interesting counterpoint to the "virus children", who use their own capabilities to judge others.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Darwin's Children
  More Ideas and Technology by Greg Bear
  Tech news articles related to Darwin's Children
  Tech news articles related to works by Greg Bear

Automated Sentry-related news articles:
  - UK School Face Recognition: Kiddie Orwell Tech

Articles related to Security
Indian Court Says Brain Scan Proves Murder
Background Draw-a-Secret (BDAS) Makes Graphical Passwords
ID-U Biometrics Eye Tracking Signature
PCASS And The Original Handheld Lie Detector

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