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The Chinese describe the concerted campaigns to identify and shame various malefactors as a “human flesh search engine.” In China itself, it has been used to identify corruptioneers, sadists, or merely people who have been too outspoken about their dislike for China. In the West, it seems that this role is largely played by the /pol/ crowd (e.g. a nurse who claimed to have OD’ed Trump-supporting boomers) and of course the SJWs/antifas hunting down Charlottesville participants and racialist crimethinkers.

Anyhow, all of this is now going to get turbocharged, with the development of companies such as Clearview AI, which was recently profiled in the NYT (article available on /r/Futurology without paywall). These companies scrape billions of images from social media and other websites, set AIs loose to train upon them, and use pattern recognition to immediately link any IRL person to the mass of information available on him/her in their ever growing database.

Incidentally, I can personally confirm that the technology works very well, and has been been doing so since at least mid-2019, when someone involved in the project offered to test it out on me (capturing me on a cell phone camera immediately brought up the photograph of me with the sword, a bunch of other photos, and a biographical profile of myself). This was certainly very cool, creepy, and cyberpunk. At the time, I recall immediately thinking about the impact of this when we finally get working smart glasses and link up the two technologies, allowing us to immediately pull up masses of information on any stranger we come across.

As Emil Kirkegaard predicted back in 2017, this is going to be the end of anonymity in the crowd:

Given sufficient measurement precision, all humans have unique genomes and fingerprints, but also faces and voices. The first two are well known and somewhat difficult to measure. However, the last two are very easy to measure, even at a distance. In the next few years, massive datasets will be built of public, semi-public and leaked private data linking people between all services with available data, for all available time periods. This first and foremost includes social media like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, but also Youtube, and every dating and porno site. There are a host of voice-only services like SoundCloud that currently handle anonymous users, which is also true for Youtube and porno sites. All these people will be automatically identified and linked in the near future. It will not be possible to take part in a public demonstration without a mask (illegal in many places) which cannot later to matched to you. It will not be possible to take part in amateur or paid-porn without a mask and maybe without being silent (even moans can be matched in all likelihood).

Now think what you could do with that, and drones… and tracking systems for mountable gun barrels… let your imagination run wild.

Yet despite the potential for cyberpunk/dystopian scenarios, most uses will be prosaic. Obviously, crime control will be the big one. Many people esp. autists will want to increase the efficiency of their human interactions. The fact that relatively small companies can now master the technology (as opposed to just giants like Google several years ago) means that there will also be many suppliers to serve the large demand. So there’s no stopping this tech now that it’s out of the bag.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: AI, China, Privacy, Surveillance 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    Anatoly, can you please respond to my comment #133 on the current Open Thread?

    AK: Done.
  2. In China itself, it has been used to identify corruptioneers, sadists, or merely people who have been too outspoken about their dislike for China.

    Reminds me of an anime I saw some time ago.

    “A world where a human’s state of mind and the criminal potential of their personality can be quantified. While all sorts of inclinations are recorded and policed, these measured numbers used to judge people’s souls are commonly called one’s PSYCHO-PASS”

    “The series takes place in a dystopian 22nd-century Japan where it is possible to instantaneously measure and quantify a person’s propensity towards criminality using a cymatic scanner. The information is recorded and analyzed by the Sibyl System, a hive-mind that controls law enforcement in Japan. Sibyl’s oracular judgment determines – via various methods – one’s numerical Crime Co-efficient, one’s color-coded Hue over time and one’s societal profile that results in an indexed Psycho-Pass. This number determines your value in society, as well as your right to live in freedom, under observation, in custody or not live at all.”

    Also, Minority Report.

    Yet despite the potential for cyberpunk/dystopian scenarios, most uses will be prosaic. Obviously, crime control will be the big one. Many people esp. autists will want to increase the efficiency of their human interactions.

    I concur. Hopefully, thought criminals won’t be hounded too severely in the Brave New World. The crime AI might reveal HBD (figure out that some people are genetically pre-disposed to crime and want to eliminate them), so bio-Leninist libs will quickly block the roll out of the tech because it’s racist.

    The fact that relatively small companies can now master the technology (as opposed to just giants like Google several years ago) means that there will also be many suppliers to serve the large demand. So there’s no stopping this tech now that it’s out of the bag.

    It will be interesting to see how that pans out. The democratization of this tech out of the hands of a few companies is definitely a big plus.

    This was certainly very cool, creepy, and cyberpunk. At the time, I recall immediately thinking about the impact of this when we finally get working smart glasses and link up the two technologies, allowing us to immediately pull up masses of information on any stranger we come across.

    Almost gives that feeling you get before the drop on a rollercoaster. I wonder how many luddite communes will form in an attempt to isolate from the new technologies.

    • Replies: @Tusk
    Psycho-pass was a pretty good show.
  3. I have a vast collection of ancient family photos going back over 100 years. Google has recently released face matching in the UK. It is cataloguing my album for me and helping me distinguish one relative from another. Once you identify great great uncle Ben who went South Africa once Google finds him everywhere and then you can work out that the woman is Aunty Lil. Terrific stuff.

    My Android phone knows my face, fingerprints, voice print, movements, finances, buying habits, search habits, relationships. Only very recently has Google’s ad delivery been getting good enough to be in anyway spooky. Pretty much everything until last year was just chasing my age.

    I don’t mind, even want, advertisers to have anonymised access to my data. Relevant ads become information. Groupthink bubbles are more problematic. I engage here, partly for debate on Russia and partly to see the views of people I don’t agree with, being an extreme centrist myself. If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?

    The police in Cardiff, near me, were the first in the EU to use facial recognition as a normal monitoring operation in the street. They match faces against a watch list of banned football hooligans and violent drunkards amongst others. The features of passing members of the general public are not stored. Google knows more. There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.

    • Replies: @JPM

    There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.
     
    My impression is that the UK already has the most totalitarian impulses of any first world country. I would be skeptical of the government's respect for privacy over the long term.

    If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic.

     

    Well at least MI5 doesn't have powers of arrest yet. Although maybe they will start watching you.

    Opinions are already policed after a fashion because of political correctness. Hopefully, it doesn't get any worse with this tech.
    , @Mr. Hack

    If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic.
     
    Only if the government this technology serves is radically left wing and permanently ensconced in power. Apparently, you don't find this advanced sort of scrutiny of much concern when exposing your marketing preferences.
    , @Swedish Family

    If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?
     
    Likely because you play Russia-related clips and they store that in a cookie. I run Firefox with AdBlocker, and my recommendations are always generic -- although tilted toward Swedish content -- until I start clicking around at videos.
    , @Kratoklastes

    The features of passing members of the general public are not stored
     
    Reading that non-ironically, it doesn't take Strong AI to identify that statement as the point at which P=1 that you should be disqualified from further participation in adult conversations.

    I've said it before: the HTML spec needs a formal "sarc" tag. I know that most sarcastic people think that their sarcasm can be inferred from context, but frankly it's all becoming too fucking subtle.
    , @The Alarmist

    The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world.
     
    Yes, citizen, because states that abuse their power vis à vis their citizenry have been the exception, not the rule throughout history.
  4. What’s strange to me is how easy the whole thing was. Some random aspiring model in New York hires a bunch of random engineers and viola, a short while later this game changing technology appears. It didn’t seem to need large numbers of the world’s best minds working on this.

    And I thought China was at the forefront of this kind of technology – why did someone in America end up bringing it to the market.

    My sense is this technology already exists within the large companies like Google, who refused apparently to release it. But it seems recent advances have made it relatively easy for anyone to develop this.

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    It's been screamingly easy to do object identification/extraction/segmentation for several years - in real time, on video.

    With that said: this company's claims are overblown in ways that make Theranos look credible. You know... these bullshit-artists are going to have reliable facial-recognition from a training sample of fuck-all, just like Theranos was going to do all the blood tests with that one drop of blood.

    If I was to bet: these charlatans have a set of 'pat' examples that they show buyers, which appear amazing, but that are entirely contrived (and which are augmented by non-image classification data; the 'facial recognition' equivalent of aspatial data in the GIS/RemoteSensing context).

    Unless you have several hundred HD instances of an individual's face taken from multiple angles, the best image-classification tools perform quite poorly.

    They can tell the part of the image that is a face, but the idea that a one-shot from a CCTV can be identified as a specific individual is horse-shit.

    Biometric analysis of facial features is nowhere near as scientific as is made out; unless you have a clean image of a person with the same 'setup' as the comparison image - which means, inter alia, same level of beard (or makeup); same level of ambient light; same level of hydration - all of those things generate enough of a change in the placement of biometric marker positions to stymie the best-configured 'recognition' software.

    Don't be shocked by that: all 'exciting' tech (blockchain; crypto; image recognition; Deep Learning; Machine Learning) attracts its share of charlatans who promise the Earth, get a government contract, and then deliver whatever they deliver (and rely on face-saving and CYA to prevent the issue from being public knowledge).

    And if you're tasked with performing the review analysis of some sexy project (with 'AI' or "cybersecurity" in the title), there is almost no mileage in revealing the plot holes, even if you set up a solid example of clean failure (i.e., where the sexy new thing fails despite no the example not being too contrived). You'll find the holes, file your report, and it won't make a blind bit of difference.So over time you just get used to making the presentation, lodging the report (knowing it won't be read or acted on) and banking the cheque with no remorse.

    I've seen this phenomenon in a bunch of instances - where someone was the most exciting tender for some project, and then delivered something that was massively optimised for some base dataset ... but performed hopelessly outside of sample.

    I've seen it in GIS/RemoteSensing; Quant Finance; cybersecurity; DL/ML/NLP and a variety of other use-cases.

    Done right, Deep Learning does a tremendous job of correctly identifying and categorising static images - but only into relatively broad categories.

    It's excellent at things like licence-plate recognition - where the underlying structure is relatively straightforward.

    As I've mentioned before, I did a major DL image-classification project that identified plantation forestry for an entire state, based solely on the characteristics of aerial images over time. I retrained the final layers of TensorFlow, and it did a fantastic job in a very short amount of time... but it required thousands of sample images for each class (forest type × growth stage) to train it.

    Bear in mind that there is a requirement for training data for every individual class: "softwood; 1-5 years after planting" requires several thousands images, as does "native vegetation" (i.e., not softwood or hardwood).

    Now... consider that for a facial identification task, every individual is a separate 'class' under the 'biometric face recognition' schema.

    It does not suffice for the system o identify me as a 50-something white(ish) male that all the chicks would bone in a heartbeat: it has to be able to accurately distinguish between me, and some other preternaturally sexy 50-something male white(ish) human.

    Any claim that it could do so, from CCTV capture of variable quality, with fuck-all images for its training (and testing) set.... no sale: only a government agency has enough institutional ignorance for that to even get viewed as plausible.

    Imagine that there are, to my knowledge, precisely 4 images of my face on the internet - one from when I was 3; one from when I was 6; one from 1996 and one from 2012. And that's literally it.

    I will allow the possibility that someone has uploaded a class photo that has me in it, or a group photo from my Army days... but none of those will do justice to my current manly resplendence.

    So the "Theranos-level facial recognition" might have a chance if it concentrates solely on selfie-obsessed people who fill the internet with photos of their face getting in the road of something much more interesting... but then the algorithm has to be able to map from duckface (or gangsta-face for men) to IRL CCTV-face, which would be a challenge.

    CODA: I am not being complacent: know when to take a tech threat seriously.

    When I became aware of the impending upgrade to police in-car scanning tech - particularly new LPR cameras and the real-time link to ownership, registration and license databases - I immediately went and got my license.

    I had driven cars for 35 years without a license (I had had a learner's permit in the 1980s, and a motorcycle learner's as well), but it was immediately clear that the new tech meant that any passing pig-wagon that scanned my plates would see that the registered owner was not a licensed driver.

    Since I understood that they autoscan every car they pass, the odds of apprehension had rocketed towards 1, so I booked in for my license (which meant being on P plates for 2 years at the age of 50, which meant that everyone thought I had lost my license for speeding or drunk driving or whatever).

  5. @Anatoly Karlin
    Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

    Anatoly, can you please respond to my comment #133 on the current Open Thread?

    AK: Done.

  6. There’s a reason why my username here is called “TheTotallyAnonymous”. It’s a sarcastic and cynical reference to the fact that privacy is basically dead in the modern world.

    It’s going to be extremely awkward and difficult, but people would do well with getting used to being much more careful with their private information (as humanely possible).

    The biggest problem though is that everyone around you is going to be using electronic and digital technology, which means that truly protecting your privacy without going off grid to some remote mountain or other natural place, is basically impossible.

    RIP pre internet-censorship and privacy butchering era.

    • Agree: JPM
  7. I forgot. My British passport means that the UK government has my face stored and scans me at immigration. No immigration officer requir d. I demand it to be so for my Russian visa! No queues. Mishustin will deliver this sort of thing.

    Drivers licences next in the UK.

    There has been talk of facial recognition for season ticket holders on commuter trains. Again faster processing.

    We need Huxley’s soma to deal with Orwell’s big brother. Is Soma spelt FENTANYL?

    Tatu has gone. All Trance music now. Even so, YouTube’s AI ain’t much.

  8. @Philip Owen
    I have a vast collection of ancient family photos going back over 100 years. Google has recently released face matching in the UK. It is cataloguing my album for me and helping me distinguish one relative from another. Once you identify great great uncle Ben who went South Africa once Google finds him everywhere and then you can work out that the woman is Aunty Lil. Terrific stuff.

    My Android phone knows my face, fingerprints, voice print, movements, finances, buying habits, search habits, relationships. Only very recently has Google's ad delivery been getting good enough to be in anyway spooky. Pretty much everything until last year was just chasing my age.

    I don't mind, even want, advertisers to have anonymised access to my data. Relevant ads become information. Groupthink bubbles are more problematic. I engage here, partly for debate on Russia and partly to see the views of people I don't agree with, being an extreme centrist myself. If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?

    The police in Cardiff, near me, were the first in the EU to use facial recognition as a normal monitoring operation in the street. They match faces against a watch list of banned football hooligans and violent drunkards amongst others. The features of passing members of the general public are not stored. Google knows more. There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.

    There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.

    My impression is that the UK already has the most totalitarian impulses of any first world country. I would be skeptical of the government’s respect for privacy over the long term.

    If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic.

    Well at least MI5 doesn’t have powers of arrest yet. Although maybe they will start watching you.

    Opinions are already policed after a fashion because of political correctness. Hopefully, it doesn’t get any worse with this tech.

  9. @Philip Owen
    I have a vast collection of ancient family photos going back over 100 years. Google has recently released face matching in the UK. It is cataloguing my album for me and helping me distinguish one relative from another. Once you identify great great uncle Ben who went South Africa once Google finds him everywhere and then you can work out that the woman is Aunty Lil. Terrific stuff.

    My Android phone knows my face, fingerprints, voice print, movements, finances, buying habits, search habits, relationships. Only very recently has Google's ad delivery been getting good enough to be in anyway spooky. Pretty much everything until last year was just chasing my age.

    I don't mind, even want, advertisers to have anonymised access to my data. Relevant ads become information. Groupthink bubbles are more problematic. I engage here, partly for debate on Russia and partly to see the views of people I don't agree with, being an extreme centrist myself. If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?

    The police in Cardiff, near me, were the first in the EU to use facial recognition as a normal monitoring operation in the street. They match faces against a watch list of banned football hooligans and violent drunkards amongst others. The features of passing members of the general public are not stored. Google knows more. There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.

    If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic.

    Only if the government this technology serves is radically left wing and permanently ensconced in power. Apparently, you don’t find this advanced sort of scrutiny of much concern when exposing your marketing preferences.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
  10. The simulation hypothesis gets one thinking about how much processing power would be needed to spy on everyone 24/7. It is probably not much more than exists now. If one were very paranoid, a lot of the distractions of today might be seen as a way to reduce speech between individuals in order to limit the processing required for speech recognition.

    I sometimes worry that the whole of the internet is a honeypot. VPNs are probably a way to use self-selection to create tiers of scrutiny, to reduce processing power. Use one and get more scrutiny – more CPU time.

    I’ve even wondered about some of the ads youtube plays if you don’t use adblocker or pay for the service. You know those ones that ask you to check a box to select the ad you’ve seen recently? If you answer “None of the above”, then they probably mark you down as not being a bugmen.

  11. This technology was bound to happen, they only question is who gets to control it. In China it is the CCP, in America it is the jews (government outsourced it to Google, ADL, Facebook). It should be very clear which of the two is preferable.

  12. Let us take it all in perspective. In the past, like 150 years ago, a typical man moves around a small town or a district, basically everyone knows about him. What is his privacy situation?

    With complexity, there’s always gonna be surprises. For a man who cares about HIS privacy, he most likely also interested to learn about OTHERS disregard their concerns. It is the same coin’s two sides.

    That being said, there is indeed an awfully new factor, that is the emergence of a pragmatically independent AI player. Most of us, when we talk about consciousness and those things of that realm, are not casually optimistic about AI’s potential, but, thinking about a mosquito, a shark or arrays of dumb and cool predators that nature has been providing this world, and the ubiquitous connectivity, very likely, a horrible and innocent AI predator might come into life in the near future.

    Another dimension worthy of be pondering on, is the tool set that is surely to be available to smarties, or, self regarded smarties. 😉 Say, the usefulness of facial recognition is based on the basic presumption that, to be an actor in this world, you must move your face around. When this is spelled out, everyone can see it is no longer terribly true especially in the near future.

  13. Dang! This is really scary.

    Can the Borg tell if I actually glance at those Spicy Lingerie ads whenever I read an article at Taki’s?

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    General note - this technology isn't really related to this, but to real-time identification of human faces / matching them up with their online profile. Like, with this app, I can snap out my phone, get you on camera, and (very likely) immediately get a bunch of data on you.

    The general privacy/surveillance comments here relate to long-existing technologies and trends.
  14. @Philip Owen
    I have a vast collection of ancient family photos going back over 100 years. Google has recently released face matching in the UK. It is cataloguing my album for me and helping me distinguish one relative from another. Once you identify great great uncle Ben who went South Africa once Google finds him everywhere and then you can work out that the woman is Aunty Lil. Terrific stuff.

    My Android phone knows my face, fingerprints, voice print, movements, finances, buying habits, search habits, relationships. Only very recently has Google's ad delivery been getting good enough to be in anyway spooky. Pretty much everything until last year was just chasing my age.

    I don't mind, even want, advertisers to have anonymised access to my data. Relevant ads become information. Groupthink bubbles are more problematic. I engage here, partly for debate on Russia and partly to see the views of people I don't agree with, being an extreme centrist myself. If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?

    The police in Cardiff, near me, were the first in the EU to use facial recognition as a normal monitoring operation in the street. They match faces against a watch list of banned football hooligans and violent drunkards amongst others. The features of passing members of the general public are not stored. Google knows more. There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.

    If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?

    Likely because you play Russia-related clips and they store that in a cookie. I run Firefox with AdBlocker, and my recommendations are always generic — although tilted toward Swedish content — until I start clicking around at videos.

  15. @iffen
    Dang! This is really scary.

    Can the Borg tell if I actually glance at those Spicy Lingerie ads whenever I read an article at Taki's?

    General note – this technology isn’t really related to this, but to real-time identification of human faces / matching them up with their online profile. Like, with this app, I can snap out my phone, get you on camera, and (very likely) immediately get a bunch of data on you.

    The general privacy/surveillance comments here relate to long-existing technologies and trends.

    • Agree: TheTotallyAnonymous
    • Replies: @iffen
    Right, I read the NYT article. I was just tying it all together for the benefit of an interested and motivated Borg. I assume that such a Borg could define the physical location of my PC, turn on my camera and using eye movement detection technology determine which part of the screen held my gaze. But until such time as defacing the telescreen becomes illegal, the duct tape will foil their machinations. Concerning the new technology, and making the assumption that they can locate a PC or device in time and space, they could then surveil the area(s) with cameras and eventually identify persons who repeatedly use a device to access badthink.
  16. …this is going to be the end of anonymity in the crowd

    No, it won’t.

    There are precisely zero of my photos on the Internet, and I have no social media accounts.

    This isn’t rocket surgery, and if you’re dumb enough to post private info on the intertubes, then you deserve precisely what you get.

    • Replies: @silviosilver

    There are precisely zero of my photos on the Internet, and I have no social media accounts.
     
    I feel the same way about social media, but you can't stop friends posting pics of you on the internet if you want a social life.
    , @songbird
    I'm sure a driver's license, passport photo, or yearbook picture would suffice. There are implications here beyond corporate spying.
  17. @Anatoly Karlin
    General note - this technology isn't really related to this, but to real-time identification of human faces / matching them up with their online profile. Like, with this app, I can snap out my phone, get you on camera, and (very likely) immediately get a bunch of data on you.

    The general privacy/surveillance comments here relate to long-existing technologies and trends.

    Right, I read the NYT article. I was just tying it all together for the benefit of an interested and motivated Borg. I assume that such a Borg could define the physical location of my PC, turn on my camera and using eye movement detection technology determine which part of the screen held my gaze. But until such time as defacing the telescreen becomes illegal, the duct tape will foil their machinations. Concerning the new technology, and making the assumption that they can locate a PC or device in time and space, they could then surveil the area(s) with cameras and eventually identify persons who repeatedly use a device to access badthink.

  18. @anonymous coward

    ...this is going to be the end of anonymity in the crowd
     
    No, it won't.

    There are precisely zero of my photos on the Internet, and I have no social media accounts.

    This isn't rocket surgery, and if you're dumb enough to post private info on the intertubes, then you deserve precisely what you get.

    There are precisely zero of my photos on the Internet, and I have no social media accounts.

    I feel the same way about social media, but you can’t stop friends posting pics of you on the internet if you want a social life.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
    Like I said, I don't have social media accounts. (And neither should you.)

    Even if photos are leaked by third parties, there is no way to link them to my personal data.
  19. technology works very well,

    This is not difficult or new, today, in relation to photos. It has been happening for about 15 years.

    Nowadays you could “build your own database in a garage” and run an openly available facial recognition software on it.

    However, it’s becoming more difficult to scrape large quantity of images from certain social media sites before the website notices, and there have also been some scary legal conditions on sites. For example, scraping Facebook, is technically a crime of data theft.

    Moreover, there has been a negative legal and social response to use of facial recognition for identification since at least 2015, so its use will be restricted.

    The difficult “technology” aspect – facial recognition algorithms – were developed from around 15-20 years ago, mainly I believe it was developed in Israel and America, and probably the funding was originally related to security. State of the area now is to provide “real time” facial recognition from security videos.

    For use in photos, Google and Facebook bought different facial recognition software from Israeli startups from around 2010 . E.g.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face.com

    But use by Google and Facebook was limited soon by privacy consumer concerns – for example, Facebook only uses it to tag photos and Google only uses it to organize picture albums.

    Perhaps around 2015 (I cannot remember exactly) EU began legal restrictions on facial recognition. Media hype in those years about Google Glass also scared people and contributed to the first EU legal restrictions.

    Currently, the media is reporting about AnyVision, because of use on checkpoints in Israel.

    (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether the use of facial recognition technology developed by an Israeli startup it funded complies with its ethics principles, the company said on Friday.

    AnyVision, based outside Tel Aviv, has come under scrutiny following reports by Haaretz’s TheMarker business newspaper and NBC News that its technology is used to surveil Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank.

    http://reuters.com/article/uk-microsoft-anyvision/microsoft-to-probe-work-of-israeli-facial-recognition-startup-it-funded-idUKKBN1XQ03O

    Even though their products are probably still completely legal – AnyVision is now uploading videos on YouTube about ethics as they could lose their jobs, at least as a result of no more future funding from Microsoft.

  20. @anonymous coward

    ...this is going to be the end of anonymity in the crowd
     
    No, it won't.

    There are precisely zero of my photos on the Internet, and I have no social media accounts.

    This isn't rocket surgery, and if you're dumb enough to post private info on the intertubes, then you deserve precisely what you get.

    I’m sure a driver’s license, passport photo, or yearbook picture would suffice. There are implications here beyond corporate spying.

  21. Yeps. These guys thought ahead.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    Google has done this already 10 years ago and then with a lot of media reaction.

    Eventually, they did not release it publicly because there was a negative public reaction. There were changes in EU law, against facial recognition, because of the hype created by the Google Glasses.

    Currently people like Google are self-policing this kind of idea, and especially national security service benefit from this current situation where there is not yet a clear legal opinion on these topics in the countries where they located. In Russia like America, government security service will surely have made these databases and they scrape as much as they can from the internet.

    If someone releases such a product in the public, then there will be negative public reaction and quite soon laws to restrict it, and the legal situation will change to limit this activity.

    All this - scraping stuff and putting into a searchable database - is completely easy and available now. Just like growing a cannabis plant would be easy, but releasing it to the public might have legal consequences. The question is about what will be the public reaction and legal framework which will develop.

    Currently, there is just a legally undefined situation (before the negative reaction comes), and this current situation benefits some interests.

  22. @Anatoly Karlin
    Yeps. These guys thought ahead.

    https://twitter.com/kashhill/status/1218540490431307776

    Google has done this already 10 years ago and then with a lot of media reaction.

    Eventually, they did not release it publicly because there was a negative public reaction. There were changes in EU law, against facial recognition, because of the hype created by the Google Glasses.

    Currently people like Google are self-policing this kind of idea, and especially national security service benefit from this current situation where there is not yet a clear legal opinion on these topics in the countries where they located. In Russia like America, government security service will surely have made these databases and they scrape as much as they can from the internet.

    If someone releases such a product in the public, then there will be negative public reaction and quite soon laws to restrict it, and the legal situation will change to limit this activity.

    All this – scraping stuff and putting into a searchable database – is completely easy and available now. Just like growing a cannabis plant would be easy, but releasing it to the public might have legal consequences. The question is about what will be the public reaction and legal framework which will develop.

    Currently, there is just a legally undefined situation (before the negative reaction comes), and this current situation benefits some interests.

  23. @silviosilver

    There are precisely zero of my photos on the Internet, and I have no social media accounts.
     
    I feel the same way about social media, but you can't stop friends posting pics of you on the internet if you want a social life.

    Like I said, I don’t have social media accounts. (And neither should you.)

    Even if photos are leaked by third parties, there is no way to link them to my personal data.

    • Replies: @Znzn
    Well I am sorry, but not everybody is an autistic hermit like you?
    , @Dmitry
    You might not upload photos to Instagram yourself.

    However, if you go out with friends, they take photos - these will go on social media.

    Similarly, if you are ever in a restaurant or street, and other people are taking photos, then their photos will go on social media with your face accidentally in the background. Photos might be scraped onto some database. Facial recognition algorithm will find your face.

    Even faces in videos will probably be scraped and archived one day.

    However, if you are scared - you have to remember that desire for privacy is quite universal, or at least greatly common. In this case, technology allowed something that reduces quality of life, before society has reacted to it, and society will react against it negatively.

    In the future, there will be a lot of laws to restrict both the scraping of photos and of making them searchable. It's a current stage of history now where some important groups are benefiting from the lack of legal restriction and review of this at the moment, while it also has not been made available to public.

    First there might have to be a bit of unpleasant experience with the technology, and then the reaction of society will be to try to legally enforce privacy. Although this reaction is not always as rapid as you might want - e.g. how many years of deaths in automobile accidents before they created rules for road movement.

  24. So how do spies avoid being detected now?

    This technology is great for law enforcement and a nightmare for law breakers.

  25. For Western Liberalism the meaning of life is developing through being open to radical ideas and new experiences; it is all about their individuality. Chinese tradition ’emphasizes one’s power from within the context of one’s connection and unity (or harmony) with external authorities of power’. The lesser sense of self that Chinese have and their vulnerability to being kept in line by shame makes the new big data era ideally suited to making China into a giant heap of social insects. For control of behavior operant conditioning now has tools that only China can really make use of; China’s Credit Score System completely compulsory. In addition to behaviorist techniques their score will be holding a mirror of their activities up to each person to shame them into conformity. It is all going to work beautifully for China.

  26. @JPM

    In China itself, it has been used to identify corruptioneers, sadists, or merely people who have been too outspoken about their dislike for China.
     
    Reminds me of an anime I saw some time ago.

    "A world where a human's state of mind and the criminal potential of their personality can be quantified. While all sorts of inclinations are recorded and policed, these measured numbers used to judge people's souls are commonly called one's PSYCHO-PASS"

    "The series takes place in a dystopian 22nd-century Japan where it is possible to instantaneously measure and quantify a person's propensity towards criminality using a cymatic scanner. The information is recorded and analyzed by the Sibyl System, a hive-mind that controls law enforcement in Japan. Sibyl's oracular judgment determines - via various methods - one's numerical Crime Co-efficient, one's color-coded Hue over time and one's societal profile that results in an indexed Psycho-Pass. This number determines your value in society, as well as your right to live in freedom, under observation, in custody or not live at all."

    Also, Minority Report.

    Yet despite the potential for cyberpunk/dystopian scenarios, most uses will be prosaic. Obviously, crime control will be the big one. Many people esp. autists will want to increase the efficiency of their human interactions.
     
    I concur. Hopefully, thought criminals won't be hounded too severely in the Brave New World. The crime AI might reveal HBD (figure out that some people are genetically pre-disposed to crime and want to eliminate them), so bio-Leninist libs will quickly block the roll out of the tech because it's racist.

    The fact that relatively small companies can now master the technology (as opposed to just giants like Google several years ago) means that there will also be many suppliers to serve the large demand. So there’s no stopping this tech now that it’s out of the bag.
     
    It will be interesting to see how that pans out. The democratization of this tech out of the hands of a few companies is definitely a big plus.

    This was certainly very cool, creepy, and cyberpunk. At the time, I recall immediately thinking about the impact of this when we finally get working smart glasses and link up the two technologies, allowing us to immediately pull up masses of information on any stranger we come across.
     
    Almost gives that feeling you get before the drop on a rollercoaster. I wonder how many luddite communes will form in an attempt to isolate from the new technologies.

    Psycho-pass was a pretty good show.

    • Replies: @JPM
    Indeed, it brought up some interesting questions. Hopefully, people won't end up being as domesticated as they are in that show.
  27. @Tusk
    Psycho-pass was a pretty good show.

    Indeed, it brought up some interesting questions. Hopefully, people won’t end up being as domesticated as they are in that show.

  28. @anonymous coward
    Like I said, I don't have social media accounts. (And neither should you.)

    Even if photos are leaked by third parties, there is no way to link them to my personal data.

    Well I am sorry, but not everybody is an autistic hermit like you?

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
    Agreed, you can go on and live the life of an anal slave of the ZuckerZOG, and I will go on living the life of an autistic hermit.

    (Where 'autistic hermit' means not sharing photos with people you don't speak to in real life, I guess? Sorry, I don't speak NPC.)

  29. @Znzn
    Well I am sorry, but not everybody is an autistic hermit like you?

    Agreed, you can go on and live the life of an anal slave of the ZuckerZOG, and I will go on living the life of an autistic hermit.

    (Where ‘autistic hermit’ means not sharing photos with people you don’t speak to in real life, I guess? Sorry, I don’t speak NPC.)

  30. Semi-OT – I can imagine what the Guardian would have said if, say, the late Roger Scruton had written a short story about an autodidactic, ultra-powerful artificial intelligence which, having trained itself up to speed, declares itself to be English?

    Well the Guardian’s political corespondent Rafael Behr

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafael_Behr

    has written a short story where the most powerful AI computer in the world declares itself to be culturally Jewish.

    https://www.jewishquarterly.org/2019/02/reidentity/

    “Noah looked across at Innovations, who stretched, pushed himself back from the table, palms pressed together, fingertips resting on his lower lip: “Tell them, Noah.”

    “Tell us what.”

    “It’s Jewish.”

    Noah put his pen on the table. “Conimbus is Jewish.”

    “You made it Jewish?”

    “No, no. It made itself Jewish. It identifies as Jewish.”

    “You mean it thinks its Jewish.”

    “Well, ‘thinks’ is kind of a problematic term in the AI field, we don’t really have a vocabulary for…”

    “Sorry, can we dial back a bit here. If you didn’t programme your robot to be Jewish, how are you, er, inferring his Jewishness.”

    “Its”.

    “I’m sorry?”

    “Its. Not his. We don’t like to use gender pronouns. It’s a cognitive bias thing. We’re trying to allow Conimbus to assemble its own identity and if we assign gender…”

    “You can’t call it ‘he’ but you call it Jewish?”

    “The development spec was to code meta-processing systems that would coalesce into a stable identity. It doesn’t self-identify as male. It does self-identify as Jewish. ” ”

    • LOL: reiner Tor
  31. @Philip Owen
    I have a vast collection of ancient family photos going back over 100 years. Google has recently released face matching in the UK. It is cataloguing my album for me and helping me distinguish one relative from another. Once you identify great great uncle Ben who went South Africa once Google finds him everywhere and then you can work out that the woman is Aunty Lil. Terrific stuff.

    My Android phone knows my face, fingerprints, voice print, movements, finances, buying habits, search habits, relationships. Only very recently has Google's ad delivery been getting good enough to be in anyway spooky. Pretty much everything until last year was just chasing my age.

    I don't mind, even want, advertisers to have anonymised access to my data. Relevant ads become information. Groupthink bubbles are more problematic. I engage here, partly for debate on Russia and partly to see the views of people I don't agree with, being an extreme centrist myself. If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?

    The police in Cardiff, near me, were the first in the EU to use facial recognition as a normal monitoring operation in the street. They match faces against a watch list of banned football hooligans and violent drunkards amongst others. The features of passing members of the general public are not stored. Google knows more. There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.

    The features of passing members of the general public are not stored

    Reading that non-ironically, it doesn’t take Strong AI to identify that statement as the point at which P=1 that you should be disqualified from further participation in adult conversations.

    I’ve said it before: the HTML spec needs a formal “sarc” tag. I know that most sarcastic people think that their sarcasm can be inferred from context, but frankly it’s all becoming too fucking subtle.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    There is no point matching the general public to the general public. The processing power is not there. The Chinese could store HK riot ringleaders faces actively as there would not be so many.

    Hiding your face doesn't help anyway. The debate about face is a useful distraction. Body form and particularly gait analysis is just as useful. Focusing objections on facial recognition is a helpful diversion. GCHQ did all these to spot know IRA terrorists and football hooligans 30 years ago but processing power wasn't really there then. They needed mainframes. In security applications a few false positives are acceptable.
  32. @AaronB
    What's strange to me is how easy the whole thing was. Some random aspiring model in New York hires a bunch of random engineers and viola, a short while later this game changing technology appears. It didn't seem to need large numbers of the world's best minds working on this.

    And I thought China was at the forefront of this kind of technology - why did someone in America end up bringing it to the market.

    My sense is this technology already exists within the large companies like Google, who refused apparently to release it. But it seems recent advances have made it relatively easy for anyone to develop this.

    It’s been screamingly easy to do object identification/extraction/segmentation for several years – in real time, on video.

    With that said: this company’s claims are overblown in ways that make Theranos look credible. You know… these bullshit-artists are going to have reliable facial-recognition from a training sample of fuck-all, just like Theranos was going to do all the blood tests with that one drop of blood.

    If I was to bet: these charlatans have a set of ‘pat’ examples that they show buyers, which appear amazing, but that are entirely contrived (and which are augmented by non-image classification data; the ‘facial recognition’ equivalent of aspatial data in the GIS/RemoteSensing context).

    Unless you have several hundred HD instances of an individual’s face taken from multiple angles, the best image-classification tools perform quite poorly.

    They can tell the part of the image that is a face, but the idea that a one-shot from a CCTV can be identified as a specific individual is horse-shit.

    Biometric analysis of facial features is nowhere near as scientific as is made out; unless you have a clean image of a person with the same ‘setup’ as the comparison image – which means, inter alia, same level of beard (or makeup); same level of ambient light; same level of hydration – all of those things generate enough of a change in the placement of biometric marker positions to stymie the best-configured ‘recognition’ software.

    Don’t be shocked by that: all ‘exciting’ tech (blockchain; crypto; image recognition; Deep Learning; Machine Learning) attracts its share of charlatans who promise the Earth, get a government contract, and then deliver whatever they deliver (and rely on face-saving and CYA to prevent the issue from being public knowledge).

    And if you’re tasked with performing the review analysis of some sexy project (with ‘AI’ or “cybersecurity” in the title), there is almost no mileage in revealing the plot holes, even if you set up a solid example of clean failure (i.e., where the sexy new thing fails despite no the example not being too contrived). You’ll find the holes, file your report, and it won’t make a blind bit of difference.So over time you just get used to making the presentation, lodging the report (knowing it won’t be read or acted on) and banking the cheque with no remorse.

    I’ve seen this phenomenon in a bunch of instances – where someone was the most exciting tender for some project, and then delivered something that was massively optimised for some base dataset … but performed hopelessly outside of sample.

    I’ve seen it in GIS/RemoteSensing; Quant Finance; cybersecurity; DL/ML/NLP and a variety of other use-cases.

    Done right, Deep Learning does a tremendous job of correctly identifying and categorising static images – but only into relatively broad categories.

    It’s excellent at things like licence-plate recognition – where the underlying structure is relatively straightforward.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I did a major DL image-classification project that identified plantation forestry for an entire state, based solely on the characteristics of aerial images over time. I retrained the final layers of TensorFlow, and it did a fantastic job in a very short amount of time… but it required thousands of sample images for each class (forest type × growth stage) to train it.

    Bear in mind that there is a requirement for training data for every individual class: “softwood; 1-5 years after planting” requires several thousands images, as does “native vegetation” (i.e., not softwood or hardwood).

    Now… consider that for a facial identification task, every individual is a separate ‘class’ under the ‘biometric face recognition’ schema.

    It does not suffice for the system o identify me as a 50-something white(ish) male that all the chicks would bone in a heartbeat: it has to be able to accurately distinguish between me, and some other preternaturally sexy 50-something male white(ish) human.

    Any claim that it could do so, from CCTV capture of variable quality, with fuck-all images for its training (and testing) set…. no sale: only a government agency has enough institutional ignorance for that to even get viewed as plausible.

    Imagine that there are, to my knowledge, precisely 4 images of my face on the internet – one from when I was 3; one from when I was 6; one from 1996 and one from 2012. And that’s literally it.

    I will allow the possibility that someone has uploaded a class photo that has me in it, or a group photo from my Army days… but none of those will do justice to my current manly resplendence.

    So the “Theranos-level facial recognition” might have a chance if it concentrates solely on selfie-obsessed people who fill the internet with photos of their face getting in the road of something much more interesting… but then the algorithm has to be able to map from duckface (or gangsta-face for men) to IRL CCTV-face, which would be a challenge.

    CODA: I am not being complacent: know when to take a tech threat seriously.

    When I became aware of the impending upgrade to police in-car scanning tech – particularly new LPR cameras and the real-time link to ownership, registration and license databases – I immediately went and got my license.

    I had driven cars for 35 years without a license (I had had a learner’s permit in the 1980s, and a motorcycle learner’s as well), but it was immediately clear that the new tech meant that any passing pig-wagon that scanned my plates would see that the registered owner was not a licensed driver.

    Since I understood that they autoscan every car they pass, the odds of apprehension had rocketed towards 1, so I booked in for my license (which meant being on P plates for 2 years at the age of 50, which meant that everyone thought I had lost my license for speeding or drunk driving or whatever).

    • Thanks: AaronB
    • Replies: @silviosilver
    The car I have driven the last five years is registered to someone without a licence. I'm not aware of any law against this. I was stopped for stopped for speeding and lost my licence in this car, but no issue was made of the ownership. On regaining my licence, I haven't been stopped once.

    It's also pretty hard to believe you drove for 35 years without being stopped once, but okay whatever.
  33. @Philip Owen
    I have a vast collection of ancient family photos going back over 100 years. Google has recently released face matching in the UK. It is cataloguing my album for me and helping me distinguish one relative from another. Once you identify great great uncle Ben who went South Africa once Google finds him everywhere and then you can work out that the woman is Aunty Lil. Terrific stuff.

    My Android phone knows my face, fingerprints, voice print, movements, finances, buying habits, search habits, relationships. Only very recently has Google's ad delivery been getting good enough to be in anyway spooky. Pretty much everything until last year was just chasing my age.

    I don't mind, even want, advertisers to have anonymised access to my data. Relevant ads become information. Groupthink bubbles are more problematic. I engage here, partly for debate on Russia and partly to see the views of people I don't agree with, being an extreme centrist myself. If Google registers this as a sympathy for far right politics, that would be problematic. Why is YouTube playing Tatu at me?

    The police in Cardiff, near me, were the first in the EU to use facial recognition as a normal monitoring operation in the street. They match faces against a watch list of banned football hooligans and violent drunkards amongst others. The features of passing members of the general public are not stored. Google knows more. There are benign possibilities. Observing people with physical or mental health problems for example. Finding missing persons. All by consent, of course. The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world. Not everywhere is China or Saudi Arabia.

    The power of this is obviously huge but in a state which more or less respects privacy it is not the end of the world.

    Yes, citizen, because states that abuse their power vis à vis their citizenry have been the exception, not the rule throughout history.

  34. Technology in the long run is bad news for nationalists because it is making traditional national borders irrelevant and heavily mitigating racial differences. In fact I would go as far to say the biggest net beneficiaries of modern tech has been lower IQ non-whites.

  35. @anonymous coward
    Like I said, I don't have social media accounts. (And neither should you.)

    Even if photos are leaked by third parties, there is no way to link them to my personal data.

    You might not upload photos to Instagram yourself.

    However, if you go out with friends, they take photos – these will go on social media.

    Similarly, if you are ever in a restaurant or street, and other people are taking photos, then their photos will go on social media with your face accidentally in the background. Photos might be scraped onto some database. Facial recognition algorithm will find your face.

    Even faces in videos will probably be scraped and archived one day.

    However, if you are scared – you have to remember that desire for privacy is quite universal, or at least greatly common. In this case, technology allowed something that reduces quality of life, before society has reacted to it, and society will react against it negatively.

    In the future, there will be a lot of laws to restrict both the scraping of photos and of making them searchable. It’s a current stage of history now where some important groups are benefiting from the lack of legal restriction and review of this at the moment, while it also has not been made available to public.

    First there might have to be a bit of unpleasant experience with the technology, and then the reaction of society will be to try to legally enforce privacy. Although this reaction is not always as rapid as you might want – e.g. how many years of deaths in automobile accidents before they created rules for road movement.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward

    Facial recognition algorithm will find your face.
     
    It won't. My face isn't linked to my name in any public-facing database. Scraping my face and name without my consent is illegal. (Or at least it is in Russian jurisdiction.)

    The case of "bad actors are breaking the law and stealing personal info" is quite a different case than "whoops, I thought it was all fun and games until I accidentally doxxed myself. :'(".
  36. @Dmitry
    You might not upload photos to Instagram yourself.

    However, if you go out with friends, they take photos - these will go on social media.

    Similarly, if you are ever in a restaurant or street, and other people are taking photos, then their photos will go on social media with your face accidentally in the background. Photos might be scraped onto some database. Facial recognition algorithm will find your face.

    Even faces in videos will probably be scraped and archived one day.

    However, if you are scared - you have to remember that desire for privacy is quite universal, or at least greatly common. In this case, technology allowed something that reduces quality of life, before society has reacted to it, and society will react against it negatively.

    In the future, there will be a lot of laws to restrict both the scraping of photos and of making them searchable. It's a current stage of history now where some important groups are benefiting from the lack of legal restriction and review of this at the moment, while it also has not been made available to public.

    First there might have to be a bit of unpleasant experience with the technology, and then the reaction of society will be to try to legally enforce privacy. Although this reaction is not always as rapid as you might want - e.g. how many years of deaths in automobile accidents before they created rules for road movement.

    Facial recognition algorithm will find your face.

    It won’t. My face isn’t linked to my name in any public-facing database. Scraping my face and name without my consent is illegal. (Or at least it is in Russian jurisdiction.)

    The case of “bad actors are breaking the law and stealing personal info” is quite a different case than “whoops, I thought it was all fun and games until I accidentally doxxed myself. :'(“.

  37. @Kratoklastes
    It's been screamingly easy to do object identification/extraction/segmentation for several years - in real time, on video.

    With that said: this company's claims are overblown in ways that make Theranos look credible. You know... these bullshit-artists are going to have reliable facial-recognition from a training sample of fuck-all, just like Theranos was going to do all the blood tests with that one drop of blood.

    If I was to bet: these charlatans have a set of 'pat' examples that they show buyers, which appear amazing, but that are entirely contrived (and which are augmented by non-image classification data; the 'facial recognition' equivalent of aspatial data in the GIS/RemoteSensing context).

    Unless you have several hundred HD instances of an individual's face taken from multiple angles, the best image-classification tools perform quite poorly.

    They can tell the part of the image that is a face, but the idea that a one-shot from a CCTV can be identified as a specific individual is horse-shit.

    Biometric analysis of facial features is nowhere near as scientific as is made out; unless you have a clean image of a person with the same 'setup' as the comparison image - which means, inter alia, same level of beard (or makeup); same level of ambient light; same level of hydration - all of those things generate enough of a change in the placement of biometric marker positions to stymie the best-configured 'recognition' software.

    Don't be shocked by that: all 'exciting' tech (blockchain; crypto; image recognition; Deep Learning; Machine Learning) attracts its share of charlatans who promise the Earth, get a government contract, and then deliver whatever they deliver (and rely on face-saving and CYA to prevent the issue from being public knowledge).

    And if you're tasked with performing the review analysis of some sexy project (with 'AI' or "cybersecurity" in the title), there is almost no mileage in revealing the plot holes, even if you set up a solid example of clean failure (i.e., where the sexy new thing fails despite no the example not being too contrived). You'll find the holes, file your report, and it won't make a blind bit of difference.So over time you just get used to making the presentation, lodging the report (knowing it won't be read or acted on) and banking the cheque with no remorse.

    I've seen this phenomenon in a bunch of instances - where someone was the most exciting tender for some project, and then delivered something that was massively optimised for some base dataset ... but performed hopelessly outside of sample.

    I've seen it in GIS/RemoteSensing; Quant Finance; cybersecurity; DL/ML/NLP and a variety of other use-cases.

    Done right, Deep Learning does a tremendous job of correctly identifying and categorising static images - but only into relatively broad categories.

    It's excellent at things like licence-plate recognition - where the underlying structure is relatively straightforward.

    As I've mentioned before, I did a major DL image-classification project that identified plantation forestry for an entire state, based solely on the characteristics of aerial images over time. I retrained the final layers of TensorFlow, and it did a fantastic job in a very short amount of time... but it required thousands of sample images for each class (forest type × growth stage) to train it.

    Bear in mind that there is a requirement for training data for every individual class: "softwood; 1-5 years after planting" requires several thousands images, as does "native vegetation" (i.e., not softwood or hardwood).

    Now... consider that for a facial identification task, every individual is a separate 'class' under the 'biometric face recognition' schema.

    It does not suffice for the system o identify me as a 50-something white(ish) male that all the chicks would bone in a heartbeat: it has to be able to accurately distinguish between me, and some other preternaturally sexy 50-something male white(ish) human.

    Any claim that it could do so, from CCTV capture of variable quality, with fuck-all images for its training (and testing) set.... no sale: only a government agency has enough institutional ignorance for that to even get viewed as plausible.

    Imagine that there are, to my knowledge, precisely 4 images of my face on the internet - one from when I was 3; one from when I was 6; one from 1996 and one from 2012. And that's literally it.

    I will allow the possibility that someone has uploaded a class photo that has me in it, or a group photo from my Army days... but none of those will do justice to my current manly resplendence.

    So the "Theranos-level facial recognition" might have a chance if it concentrates solely on selfie-obsessed people who fill the internet with photos of their face getting in the road of something much more interesting... but then the algorithm has to be able to map from duckface (or gangsta-face for men) to IRL CCTV-face, which would be a challenge.

    CODA: I am not being complacent: know when to take a tech threat seriously.

    When I became aware of the impending upgrade to police in-car scanning tech - particularly new LPR cameras and the real-time link to ownership, registration and license databases - I immediately went and got my license.

    I had driven cars for 35 years without a license (I had had a learner's permit in the 1980s, and a motorcycle learner's as well), but it was immediately clear that the new tech meant that any passing pig-wagon that scanned my plates would see that the registered owner was not a licensed driver.

    Since I understood that they autoscan every car they pass, the odds of apprehension had rocketed towards 1, so I booked in for my license (which meant being on P plates for 2 years at the age of 50, which meant that everyone thought I had lost my license for speeding or drunk driving or whatever).

    The car I have driven the last five years is registered to someone without a licence. I’m not aware of any law against this. I was stopped for stopped for speeding and lost my licence in this car, but no issue was made of the ownership. On regaining my licence, I haven’t been stopped once.

    It’s also pretty hard to believe you drove for 35 years without being stopped once, but okay whatever.

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes

    The car I have driven the last five years is registered to someone without a licence. I’m not aware of any law against this.
     
    There is - to my knowledge - no law against this in any jurisdiction I've lived in.

    That wasn't the point.

    The point is that if you're driving a car that is registered to someone without a license, and the vehicle is subjected to a plate scan and the registered-owner details pop up on the in-car screen in the pig-wagon... the car and its occupant become interesting . They become a potential easy layup.

    So it means there is an increase in the probability that you are stopped for some other contrived reason - particularly if the pig in question is below his revenue quota for the month.

    See, although pigs are among the stupidest part of the State apparatus, they are also lazy: before their cars got fitted with these new systems, it was easier to find someone who was obviously doing something wrong (speeding and tailgating, are the two most obvious ones). So back then if you were a driver who was in a normal looking vehicle, driving in a way that suited the conditions, you were of very little interest to the rozzers.

    .


    I was stopped for stopped for speeding and lost my licence in this car, but no issue was made of the ownership. On regaining my licence, I haven’t been stopped once.
     
    I never speed, because doing so is retarded and shows that the driver failed to properly grasp grade 9 Mathematics. (It doesn't change trip times enough to be worth doing).

    Anyhow... the vehicle registration of the car you have been driving will now show your details on the in-car screen as a 'known driver': if you're licensed, have no outstanding warrants, and you're driving in a way that suits the conditions, you're unlikely to have been pulled over.

    I don't know whether you drove during the period that you were disqualified, but in my jurisdiction if you had, the car with which you were linked would have been pulled over by any police vehicle that scanned its plate and saw a male in the driver's seat (assuming you're a male). Again - a potential easy layup.

    I borrowed a disqualified colleague's car last year: the original plan was for me to drive it for the entire period of his suspension (6 months), but I got pulled over 6 times in a week so I gave it back. My nephew bought a car off a guy who had a bunch of minor convictions for weed... for the first month or so he got pulled over 2-3 times a week just on the off chance that he had the same habits.

    .


    It’s also pretty hard to believe you drove for 35 years without being stopped once, but okay whatever.
     
    It's not clear to me how you inferred a claim that I was never pulled over in that time (or that my lack of license was never detected).

    Since I never speed or tailgate, I have zero risk of being pulled over as a direct result of stupidity/incompetence/not-being-able-to-do-Year-9-Mathematics, but routine 'alcohol checkpoints' have been around forever.

    In Australia the pigs don't say "Papiere, Bitte" (or "License and registration") at roadside checkpoints: you get asked to blow in the tube, and if you are under the limit you go on your way. And since the plodder doing the tests isn't in his car, he generally doesn't check the vehicle registration (recent deployment of hand-scanners has changed that, but it doesn't matter to me).

    The one time that was not a routine checkpoint: less than a month before leaving for France in 2005, when a highway patrol car checked my plate (by manual entry, in those days) while following me.

    The vehicle was a $600 banger (a 1980s Mitsubishi station wagon) that I had bought as a stop-gap after I sold our 'proper' car preparatory to going to France. Pigs target old cars because they enjoy humiliating poor people.

    Anyhow, the registration had expired (I was vaguely aware of that, but 'chanced my arm'). I admitted that my only ID was my expired 1982 Learner's Permit.

    As I said to the highway patrol guy at the time - whatever ticket he was about to write wouldn't be paid, because I was off to France in a month.

    He was nice enough to give me a lift to the nearest train station (this was on a highway, ~20km from the nearest town) but I had to leave the car in situ. I never bothered to retrieve the car.

    There have been no consequences of that incident: when I decided to go and get my license there was no record of any prior infringements.

    While I was in France - still unlicensed - I got pulled over once: at Porte d'Italie by a very fetching part-Maghrébine lady-gendarme and her pimply-faced dickhead offsider.

    It was just a standard Gestapo-type checkpoint (papers please) and concentrated on old vehicles (the type likely to be driven by illegal immigrants).

    I had bought "Gunther" - a metallic-brown 1987 VW Passat 'fastback' - for €700 from a firefighter in Cergy-Pontoise about three weeks after I got to Paris. It had taken that long to find a weekend place in the country - at Noisy sur École, 55km south of Paris down the A6 - which is where I was headed.

    The only ID I had on me was my passport and a bunch of papers that I had just picked up from the guy who was organising our cartes de séjour.

    The lovely paramilitary pigette was very interested that I was Australian (I corrected her - I am a Kiwi first), and complimented me on my French (which was rank flattery, although I was making an effort).

    Her colleague noticed that my number plates were affixed by self-tapping screws: I had put the new plates on myself, so I said so (and dug out the carte grise for the car).

    She told me that plaques d'immatriculation had to be affixed with rivets (which she pronounced "rih-vay" and eventually had to spell before I got it): I said "Ah bon? Je l'ignorai. En Australie on peut les afficher avec n'importe quoi. D'accord - je le ferai dès que possible."

    That must have been a weird construction to use in that context, because she and her colleague laughed. I already knew that "n'importe quoi" can mean a range of things from "anything" to "whatever" to "nonsense" to "bullshit" - but I could not remember the idiomatic French for "whatever you like".

    Anyhow... the colleague said "OK, M. l'Australien. Allez - bon journée!".

    "À vous aussi... au revoir.." End of story.

    , @TheTotallyAnonymous
    Thank you for answering my query from Open Thread 99 in comments 37 and 40 of this thread.

    It seems that you are genuinely retarded. It's always good to figure out the truth in such matters.

  38. @Kratoklastes

    The features of passing members of the general public are not stored
     
    Reading that non-ironically, it doesn't take Strong AI to identify that statement as the point at which P=1 that you should be disqualified from further participation in adult conversations.

    I've said it before: the HTML spec needs a formal "sarc" tag. I know that most sarcastic people think that their sarcasm can be inferred from context, but frankly it's all becoming too fucking subtle.

    There is no point matching the general public to the general public. The processing power is not there. The Chinese could store HK riot ringleaders faces actively as there would not be so many.

    Hiding your face doesn’t help anyway. The debate about face is a useful distraction. Body form and particularly gait analysis is just as useful. Focusing objections on facial recognition is a helpful diversion. GCHQ did all these to spot know IRA terrorists and football hooligans 30 years ago but processing power wasn’t really there then. They needed mainframes. In security applications a few false positives are acceptable.

  39. @silviosilver
    The car I have driven the last five years is registered to someone without a licence. I'm not aware of any law against this. I was stopped for stopped for speeding and lost my licence in this car, but no issue was made of the ownership. On regaining my licence, I haven't been stopped once.

    It's also pretty hard to believe you drove for 35 years without being stopped once, but okay whatever.

    The car I have driven the last five years is registered to someone without a licence. I’m not aware of any law against this.

    There is – to my knowledge – no law against this in any jurisdiction I’ve lived in.

    That wasn’t the point.

    The point is that if you’re driving a car that is registered to someone without a license, and the vehicle is subjected to a plate scan and the registered-owner details pop up on the in-car screen in the pig-wagon… the car and its occupant become interesting . They become a potential easy layup.

    So it means there is an increase in the probability that you are stopped for some other contrived reason – particularly if the pig in question is below his revenue quota for the month.

    See, although pigs are among the stupidest part of the State apparatus, they are also lazy: before their cars got fitted with these new systems, it was easier to find someone who was obviously doing something wrong (speeding and tailgating, are the two most obvious ones). So back then if you were a driver who was in a normal looking vehicle, driving in a way that suited the conditions, you were of very little interest to the rozzers.

    .

    I was stopped for stopped for speeding and lost my licence in this car, but no issue was made of the ownership. On regaining my licence, I haven’t been stopped once.

    I never speed, because doing so is retarded and shows that the driver failed to properly grasp grade 9 Mathematics. (It doesn’t change trip times enough to be worth doing).

    Anyhow… the vehicle registration of the car you have been driving will now show your details on the in-car screen as a ‘known driver’: if you’re licensed, have no outstanding warrants, and you’re driving in a way that suits the conditions, you’re unlikely to have been pulled over.

    I don’t know whether you drove during the period that you were disqualified, but in my jurisdiction if you had, the car with which you were linked would have been pulled over by any police vehicle that scanned its plate and saw a male in the driver’s seat (assuming you’re a male). Again – a potential easy layup.

    I borrowed a disqualified colleague’s car last year: the original plan was for me to drive it for the entire period of his suspension (6 months), but I got pulled over 6 times in a week so I gave it back. My nephew bought a car off a guy who had a bunch of minor convictions for weed… for the first month or so he got pulled over 2-3 times a week just on the off chance that he had the same habits.

    .

    It’s also pretty hard to believe you drove for 35 years without being stopped once, but okay whatever.

    It’s not clear to me how you inferred a claim that I was never pulled over in that time (or that my lack of license was never detected).

    Since I never speed or tailgate, I have zero risk of being pulled over as a direct result of stupidity/incompetence/not-being-able-to-do-Year-9-Mathematics, but routine ‘alcohol checkpoints’ have been around forever.

    In Australia the pigs don’t say “Papiere, Bitte” (or “License and registration“) at roadside checkpoints: you get asked to blow in the tube, and if you are under the limit you go on your way. And since the plodder doing the tests isn’t in his car, he generally doesn’t check the vehicle registration (recent deployment of hand-scanners has changed that, but it doesn’t matter to me).

    The one time that was not a routine checkpoint: less than a month before leaving for France in 2005, when a highway patrol car checked my plate (by manual entry, in those days) while following me.

    The vehicle was a $600 banger (a 1980s Mitsubishi station wagon) that I had bought as a stop-gap after I sold our ‘proper’ car preparatory to going to France. Pigs target old cars because they enjoy humiliating poor people.

    Anyhow, the registration had expired (I was vaguely aware of that, but ‘chanced my arm’). I admitted that my only ID was my expired 1982 Learner’s Permit.

    As I said to the highway patrol guy at the time – whatever ticket he was about to write wouldn’t be paid, because I was off to France in a month.

    He was nice enough to give me a lift to the nearest train station (this was on a highway, ~20km from the nearest town) but I had to leave the car in situ. I never bothered to retrieve the car.

    There have been no consequences of that incident: when I decided to go and get my license there was no record of any prior infringements.

    While I was in France – still unlicensed – I got pulled over once: at Porte d’Italie by a very fetching part-Maghrébine lady-gendarme and her pimply-faced dickhead offsider.

    It was just a standard Gestapo-type checkpoint (papers please) and concentrated on old vehicles (the type likely to be driven by illegal immigrants).

    I had bought “Gunther” – a metallic-brown 1987 VW Passat ‘fastback’ – for €700 from a firefighter in Cergy-Pontoise about three weeks after I got to Paris. It had taken that long to find a weekend place in the country – at Noisy sur École, 55km south of Paris down the A6 – which is where I was headed.

    The only ID I had on me was my passport and a bunch of papers that I had just picked up from the guy who was organising our cartes de séjour.

    The lovely paramilitary pigette was very interested that I was Australian (I corrected her – I am a Kiwi first), and complimented me on my French (which was rank flattery, although I was making an effort).

    Her colleague noticed that my number plates were affixed by self-tapping screws: I had put the new plates on myself, so I said so (and dug out the carte grise for the car).

    She told me that plaques d’immatriculation had to be affixed with rivets (which she pronounced “rih-vay” and eventually had to spell before I got it): I said “Ah bon? Je l’ignorai. En Australie on peut les afficher avec n’importe quoi. D’accord – je le ferai dès que possible.”

    That must have been a weird construction to use in that context, because she and her colleague laughed. I already knew that “n’importe quoi” can mean a range of things from “anything” to “whatever” to “nonsense” to “bullshit” – but I could not remember the idiomatic French for “whatever you like“.

    Anyhow… the colleague said “OK, M. l’Australien. Allez – bon journée!“.

    À vous aussi… au revoir..” End of story.

  40. In Australia the pigs don’t say “Papiere, Bitte” (or “License and registration“) at roadside checkpoints: you get asked to blow in the tube, and if you are under the limit you go on your way.

    I didn’t think so, but I did get asked the last time that happened (about two years ago). I was a bit surprised, and the convo went

    Her: Do you have your licence with you?

    Me: Yeah.

    Her: Well can I see it?

    Me: Oh…

    I’m not sure what the point of that was, since she didn’t bother checking if I was disqualified. The last time I lost my licence, I don’t recall being asked to surrender it, so if I had been driving while disqualified on this occasion, I can’t see why merely seeing my licence would have been enough to satisfy her.

    (The previous time I lost my licence, about ten years earlier, I received a letter requiring me to surrender it. But I just pretended I had misplaced it, so I couldn’t hand it in. I told my story to the guy at the traffic authority service counter and he was friendly at first, and told me to wait while he checked with his superior what should now be done. He must have been told that I was probably bullshitting, cos he came back and talked very sternly to me.)

  41. @silviosilver
    The car I have driven the last five years is registered to someone without a licence. I'm not aware of any law against this. I was stopped for stopped for speeding and lost my licence in this car, but no issue was made of the ownership. On regaining my licence, I haven't been stopped once.

    It's also pretty hard to believe you drove for 35 years without being stopped once, but okay whatever.

    Thank you for answering my query from Open Thread 99 in comments 37 and 40 of this thread.

    It seems that you are genuinely retarded. It’s always good to figure out the truth in such matters.

    • Replies: @silviosilver
    Whatever helps you sleep easy dude.

    When people become so agitated with me they have to track me down in different threads to insult me, I take it a sign that they're out of arguments and the personal attacks are just a coping strategy.
  42. @TheTotallyAnonymous
    Thank you for answering my query from Open Thread 99 in comments 37 and 40 of this thread.

    It seems that you are genuinely retarded. It's always good to figure out the truth in such matters.

    Whatever helps you sleep easy dude.

    When people become so agitated with me they have to track me down in different threads to insult me, I take it a sign that they’re out of arguments and the personal attacks are just a coping strategy.

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