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Alibaba's plan to make payments with face-scanning technology is a horrifying idea

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We are all Justin McElroy now

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

At this week's CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany, Alibaba founder Jack Ma finished his speech by presenting a prototype of one of the company's new ideas: a payment system that uses facial recognition for its security. According to Recode, Ma would like the project available to the public by 2017.

This is a great idea, if you plan to buy 500 pounds of green Jell-O with Polygon co-founder and podcast superstar Justin McElroy's checking account. You'd simply print this mask I found from a quick Google research, wear it on your face, and commit theft.

Justin McElroy

Surely, Alibaba's facial technology won't be fooled by Halloween masks, but how it will know the difference between a human and a high-resolution image remains a huge question. It's certainly not outside the realm of possibility. Other companies, including Google, have been trying to solve this problem for some time. For now, here's a totally unrelated, high-resolution portrait of billionaire Steve Ballmer.

Steve Ballmer stock 3