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Video Surveillance Tech Detects Abnormal Activity

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the unblinking-eye dept.

Privacy 189

Repton writes with news of a company, Behavioral Recognition Systems, that has received 16 patents on a new video surveillance application that can convert video images into machine-readable language, and then analyze them for anomalies that suggest suspicious behavior in the camera's field of view. The software can 'recognize' up to 300 objects and establish a baseline of activity. It should go on sale in September. "...the BRS Labs technology will likely create a fair number of false positives, [the CEO] concedes. 'We think a three-to-one ratio of alerts to actual events is what the market will accept,' he says. 'We could be wrong.'"

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189 comments

Cool (5, Interesting)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381333)

Great! Now, all they have to do is combine that with this [youtube.com] , and we can all sleep soundly.

oh yeah? (4, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381375)

If I walk past a security camera in a full sized squirrel outfit, humans couldn't even figure that one out let alone a computer. These systems are just dumb. Wait until computers are smart enough to talk with us to develop something like this otherwise it'll never be remotely accurate.

Re:oh yeah? (5, Funny)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381453)

Computers are already smart enough to talk to us. They just don't have anything interesting to say.

Why don't you try starting a conversation?

Re:oh yeah? (5, Funny)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381821)

Computers are already smart enough to talk to us.

Do computers worry you ?

They just don't have anything interesting to say.

I'm not sure I understand you fully.

Why don't you try starting a conversation?

Do you believe I don't try starting a conversation ?

Re:oh yeah? (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381893)

It looks like you're trying to start a converstion. Would you like to:

* Talk about sport.
* Talk about politics.
* Tell me how your day went.

Doesn't need to be all that accurate (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381507)

I'm sure everyone on Slashdot is donning their tinfoil hats and screaming big brother (I've already seen a couple posts to that effect) but that really isn't the target market. You'll find that by far the most customers of CCTV equipment are private companies. Pretty much any large store will have an extensive CCTV system to watch for shoplifting.

Ok well the problem is that you have to have humans watching it for suspicious activity. It is completely infeasible to hire one human per camera, and the more cameras a given human has to watch, the less they catch. Well, something like this could help. If it sees something suspicious, it brings it up on a display to one of the security personnel. The person then decides if it is a problem, or a false alarm.

A moderate amount of false alarms is fine. This wouldn't be a case of "The system went off, arrest him!" It'd be a case of "The system went off, let's have a human watch and see what's going on." It would allow for better use of security personnel.

Heck, I'd be interested in a system like this at work. We have CCTV on our computer labs. However we don't have anyone monitoring it. It's more for liability reasons, and so that if someone steals or damages a computer, we can hopefully help the police catch them. However prevention is better than clean up. So it'd be cool if when the system thought something was wrong, it'd notify staff and we could look. If everything was fine, we carry on as normal. If something is indeed happening, we call the police.

You've got to stop with the idea that these sort of things are designed to figure out what you are thinking for some evil government plan. They aren't. They are designed to help make security systems more effective.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (4, Interesting)

shawb (16347) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381717)

The ratio of false positives really shouldn't be that much of an issue if the system is implemented properly.

A bigger issue with a system like this would be false negatives. Economics being what it is, this means that the organizations deploying these cameras would likely end up hiring less people to watch the monitors per camera (whether that means an increase in cameras or a decrease in staff.) Therefore, the people watching the monitors would end up relying on the system to look for suspicious behavior. Then false negatives start to come into play. "suspicious behavior" that a human would notice and investigate may be missed by the system, and therefore go uninvestigated. This could cause escalating problems when people decide to learn what behaviors would trigger a "suspicious" flag and then go about doing their nefarious deeds where a human could have spotted them.

Sure, it would be possible to institute an automated suspicious behavior system to augment existing systems, but in reality it would end up taking away from resources used for security. Even if the system would not reduce security levels, a system such as this would at least reduce the future investment in other proven security methods, such as an increase of competent staff to watch the monitors.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381927)

Unless you have enough guards that everybody is being watched at all times, you'd have false negatives anyway. The idea is not to remove/replace human surveillance but to target it more effectively by focusing on the more suspicious people.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382425)

"A bigger issue with a system like this would be false negatives. Economics being what it is, this means that the organizations deploying these cameras would likely end up hiring less people to watch the monitors per camera (whether that means an increase in cameras or a decrease in staff.)"

Stocktakes tell the store owner how much is being lost via theft. Economics being what it is, you can use this information to measure your security bang for buck and notice there is a point where diminishing returns makes eliminating the remaining false negatives a net loss. At this point your best option is to maintain the same level of risk aversion for less money. People who run large sets of cameras are the target market so IMHO the false negatives will be expected/ignored by the buyer, they (rational but non-technical bussiness buyers) will simply want to know what it all means for their bottom line.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382589)

The ratio of false positives really shouldn't be that much of an issue if the system is implemented properly.

This is a very difficult AI problem, so it takes a lot more than just software engineering to get it right. The computer vision field has advanced enough that someone now can try something like this. 5 years ago, vision technology wasn't far enough along to do as much as they're doing. In 5 years, the research will make it possible to generate a much better solution.

A bigger issue with a system like this would be false negatives. Economics being what it is, this means that the organizations deploying these cameras would likely end up hiring less people to watch the monitors per camera (whether that means an increase in cameras or a decrease in staff.)

Quite the opposite, most likely. As another poster pointed out, most places have *nobody* watching the cameras because it's way too expensive.

Places that do have cameras often have a single person watching, so in this case you're probably right that it might allow a company to add more cameras.

(from below) So this will not only mean "search person X, because the computer tells us he is a thief". It will mean they keep searching till they find something. Can you think of places they might want to look?

Actually, it's not likely to increase that kind of thing too much: the chances of lawsuits are too high. Management cares enough about that to put the extra effort into not overdoing it.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381735)

You've got to stop with the idea that these sort of things are designed to figure out what you are thinking for some evil government plan. They aren't. They are designed to help make security systems more effective.

What flavor of Kool-Aid was in your company-supplied box lunch today?

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (-1, Redundant)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381807)

My god, a reasoned and well-thought out post, and it actually got modded insightful. I thought I was still on slashdot...

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382701)

I'm surprised it wan't modded flamebait or overrated. because, like, OMG, privacyninteenhundredandeightyfourthosandeleventyyoneununconstitutional!!!

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381901)

Ideally this would just be a help. In reality people will take the word of the machine each and every time, because people are lazy. Evener heard the expression "Well, I looked it up and the computer tells me it is like that"? That is how most people relate to computers.

So this will not only mean "search person X, because the computer tells us he is a thief". It will mean they keep searching till they find something. Can you think of places they might want to look?

It also means that people will not pay attention anymore and as long as the thing doesn't beep, you can walk out of the store with that huge 100" screen.

It will not only cause false positives, which are extremely annoying and bad for businness. It will also cause false negatives, earning people will still steal. Remember that these are not the people from CSI that are on the screens (Or even Las Vegas), these are real life, day to day people. These are the rent-a-cop that are unfit for walking around.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381945)

So this will not only mean "search person X, because the computer tells us he is a thief". It will mean they keep searching till they find something.

I think your foil hat is too tight.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (0, Flamebait)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382063)

> > So this will not only mean "search person X, because the computer tells us he is a thief". It will mean they keep searching till they find something.

> I think your foil hat is too tight.

I think you never got in such a situation. I did. I'm happy I got away with my life. I did not find it funny! So STFU and get some perspective. Guess which country it was....

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382923)

Now tell me that a "Minority Report" system would improve upon the idea.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381923)

"You've got to stop with the idea that these sort of things are designed to figure out what you are thinking for some evil government plan. They aren't. They are designed to help make security systems more effective."

Consider this. For years we have been medicating and locking up people who think that governments, and companies, are watching them under the diagnosis of mental illness. Now you are accepting that such measures need to become a reality.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (-1, Redundant)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381971)

'We think a three-to-one ratio of alerts to actual events is what the market will accept,' he says. 'We could be wrong.'"

Fail!

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382631)

A moderate amount of false alarms is fine. This wouldn't be a case of "The system went off, arrest him!" It'd be a case of "The system went off, let's have a human watch and see what's going on." It would allow for better use of security personnel.

Exactly. At the moment a lot of CCTV systems have video switches that are triggered by PIR sensors in the area covered by the camera - what BRS are proposing sounds like a smarter way of doing this.

I don't want to have to watch my CCTV monitors all the time. I'm only interested if there's someone or something in a place they shouldn't be.

Re:Doesn't need to be all that accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382965)

yeah, except that some over-paranoid people want to put surveillance in some places and consider prancing around or frollicking abnormal. If there's a three to 1 ratio that they think is marketable, I can guarantee 1 of those will be comprised much of Silly Walks. I like my olympic walking style.

And for epic fail... (1)

PotatoFiend (1330299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381677)

If I walk past a security camera in a full sized squirrel outfit, humans couldn't even figure that one out let alone a computer.

Imagine deploying this system at a furry convention.

Re:And for epic fail... (4, Funny)

ya really (1257084) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381791)

If I walk past a security camera in a full sized squirrel outfit, humans couldn't even figure that one out let alone a computer.

Imagine deploying this system at a furry convention.

I'd guess the cameras would most likely be programmed to identify the subject(s) as mentally disturbed, but most likely harmless.

Re:And for epic fail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382291)

Yes... because everyone who's got an interest in something the majority isn't interested in is mentally disturbed.

Now excuse me, I have to make fun of furries for some more before I go back to practicing my Klingon, arguing online about the finer points of Marvel vs. DC, and optimising those OpenVMS installation I slapped on the VAXen I bought on eBay last week. ;)

America, what a country! (5, Funny)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381387)

As long as the cops don't beat too many people too extremely for false positive behavior I can't see where this could be a problem. And Homeland Security is already working on getting some Executive Orders written up that will make it a crime to act in ways that cause false positives, so there should be no false positives in the near future (by definition they will be real positives). Problem solved.

But no DSP patents allowed (1)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381399)

I hope they don't bet the company on these patents since, as was discussed on ./ less than 24 hours ago, software patents involving digital signals may be invalid. (The field is generally called Digital Signal Processing.)

Re:But no DSP patents allowed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382041)

Gotta love slashdot.... We discussed this yesterday, it must be true! ;p

false positives (4, Insightful)

zobier (585066) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381403)

While it's a worry how 1984 society is becoming, I don't think false positives are a particularly bad issue with this technology. An operator who would normally be supposed to watch multiple streams of video for anomalous activity can use these more like bookmarks for subsequent human verification. The bigger issue as I see it is that 16 new patents were just granted on software/algorithms.

grenade in mouth (5, Informative)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381493)

I swear you must be a troll from Homeland Security...

While it's a worry how 1984 society is becoming, I don't think false positives are a particularly bad issue with this technology

That's like saying "Oh sure, it is worrisome that I have a live hand grenade with the pin pulled jammed in my mouth, but I don't think it would be extremely bad if it just blew off one of my pinky toes"

This kind of technology makes me want riot...ahem...i mean...to exercise my 1st amendment right to protest in a law abiding way.

I'm sickened. The CEO says: "We think a three-to-one ratio of alerts to actual events is what the market will accept."

Re:grenade in mouth (5, Insightful)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381563)

I wonder if this software would detect a positive for suspicious activity if it observed a lobbyist for the firm entering the office of a congressman with a hooker and a briefcase. It would seem that it would select for people who fly into the radar and as a result the actual complex threats would be ignored.

Re:grenade in mouth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381575)

I'm sickened. The CEO says: "We think a three-to-one ratio of alerts to actual events is what the market will accept."

So.. er... that's worse than real security guards is it?

Re:grenade in mouth (2, Interesting)

zobier (585066) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381635)

I just don't think this is that big of a deal. I do think it will be extremely easy to game, e.g. flood it with FPs like the congestion charge cameras in the UK. It will be interesting to see what games people come up with.

Re:grenade in mouth (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381757)

I'm not really sure what you're upset about. That a security guard at a camera has to look at an occasional false positive the computer recorded? What is your alternative? Someone staring at the camera 24 hours a day? No security?

Re:grenade in mouth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381879)

This kind of technology makes me want riot...ahem...i mean...to exercise my 1st amendment right to protest in a law abiding way.

Really? You're actually the type to protest technology? What a Luddite 8-)
Let me guess - you posted that comment using nothing more than an old telegraph key ;-)

Re:false positives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382501)

While it's a worry how 1984 society is becoming[...]

Being 1984 is so 20th century... :P

Re:false positives (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382945)

An operator who would normally be supposed to watch multiple streams of video for anomalous activity can use these more like bookmarks for subsequent human verification.

Are you really going to rely on human beings to do, I don't...their job? These days, it seems we can't even seem rely on CEOs to do their jobs, let alone some twit watching a video camera all day. No, as usual, the higher-ups will assume, rightly so, that the barely-above-minimum-wage idiot that they hired to watch the video is too stupid to figure out what is a false positive and what is not and treat every single flag by the system as suspicious. You put way too much faith in your fellow man.

There's an easy way to torpedo this... (4, Interesting)

Channard (693317) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381435)

... when it first gets deployed - if it gets deployed - spread the word across the internet and get people to regularly silly walk past it and do other wierd but non threatening stuff. Hey presto, so many false positives it's rendered useless.

There's an easy way to deal with you... (3, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381455)

And you don't think that will soon be made illegal? You sure sound like a terrorist to me, to Gitmo with you!

Re:There's an easy way to deal with you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24383085)

perhaps excessive and obnoxious silly walks, gestures, and "body rhythms", but what ever happened to being able to show human expression not even in moderation, but used just sparingly?

There's not enough stage space in Hollywood to say there's a time and place for everything. And The Department of Education wants to cut our theater and fine arts programs. Give us a designated acting space or this surveillance is destined to fail.

Then you have Improv Everywhere that wants to get everyone comfortable with improvisation and acting in public.

Re:There's an easy way to torpedo this... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381487)

I'd love to see those videos on youtube, then.

Re:There's an easy way to torpedo this... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381813)

I think you may have hit on this company's real business plan.

Hmm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381463)

Reading this article, it just leaves me wondering...

What smart-ass ironic sentence tag is good for this one?

Re:Hmm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381709)

Apparently the answer is:

"usualisnotabnormal"

Whatever that's supposed to mean.

It's a tool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381479)

Many of you will concede that video surveillance is desirable sometimes. And that security is desirable sometimes.
 
  This is a tool that can help surveillance. Perhaps wrongful, privacy-violating surveillance. But very possibly surveillance that we want.
 
I'd say a 1/4 error rate is fine - it still narrows down the amount a human would have to screen, and that kind of error rate will pretty much insure a human is in the loop.

HOWTO: guerilla PR for your startup (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381481)

1. File a bunch of mumbo jumbo patents on video surveillance

2. Convince some trade rag to interview your CEO

3. Submit the story to /. as a clear and present danger to "Your Rights Online"

4. ?

5. Go public!

How Good Is The AI? (2)

strelitsa (724743) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381511)

As noted in TFA and if the false positive ratio can be reduced to even 10-to-1, this technology might rapidly become the best friend of the fellow who has to constantly scan 100 surveillance screens for unusual activity.

But this system's definition of "unusual activity" intrigues me. If one of these toys is set up for example in a bank to monitor a vault door and a bank guard passes by the door every hour on his rounds, the software would presumably record that as "normal" activity. What is the "unusual" element that would prod the AI into sending an alert if a thief did exactly the same thing? What dynamic does the system employ to determine if a bank guard is a legitimate bank guard or Willie Sutton? The time it happened? Facial recognition? The fact that the "bank guard" pulled a cutting torch or dynamite out of his backpack and started going to town on the vault door?

Could the system be configured to send an alert when an expected activity didn't occur such as a bank guard or jailer missing one of his rounds?

Its difficult to imagine this system being used in any sort of serious anti-shoplifting capability in a retail setting. Would the AI be able to tell the difference between a customer picking up an iPod to look at the fine print on the box and a shoplifter shoving the iPod under his shirt? Would the system alert on me if I innocently tucked in my shirttail while walking down an aisle? As always, the devil is in the details.

Re:How Good Is The AI? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382135)

But this system's definition of "unusual activity" intrigues me. If one of these toys is set up for example in a bank to monitor a vault door and a bank guard passes by the door every hour on his rounds, the software would presumably record that as "normal" activity. What is the "unusual" element that would prod the AI into sending an alert if a thief did exactly the same thing? What dynamic does the system employ to determine if a bank guard is a legitimate bank guard or Willie Sutton? The time it happened? Facial recognition? The fact that the "bank guard" pulled a cutting torch or dynamite out of his backpack and started going to town on the vault door?

Maybe it flags people who hide their face from the camera.

Re:100 surveillance screens (2, Insightful)

JetScootr (319545) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382399)

From TFA: $1,500 to $4,500 per camera.
100 screens, assume each one rotates thru, um, 5 cameras, that's 500 cameras, say $3000 per, 1.5 million bucks. You could actually HIRE HUMANS, say 20 of'em, at $75K each to watch 5 screens each, and have a 1:1 ratio of accuracy.

Re:100 surveillance screens (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#24383111)

> You could actually HIRE HUMANS, say 20 of'em, at $75K each to watch 5 screens each, and
> have a 1:1 ratio of accuracy.

Never pulled guard duty, did you? you won't get a "1:1 ratio of accuracy" even if you hire someone for each individual camera.

mod uP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381517)

addre5ses will you can. No,

Don't fret (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381561)

UK citizens are safe in the knowledge that they're being watched [wired.com] . That's it citizen, keep moving. Nothing to see here.

Ignoring the Orwellian references, could this be used for some good?

Re:Don't fret (2, Insightful)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381995)

UK citizens are safe in the knowledge that they're being watched [wired.com] .

That poster is no one-off either. After it became fashionable to compare everything to 1984 the Government agencies realised they could play on people's paranoia. Hence the 'watchful eyes' poster, the targeting benefit fraud campaign and the warning to car tax evaders ("You can't escape the DVLA computer").

"Abnormal Activity" (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381581)

Abnormal activity? You mean like a slashdotter outside, in the sun, with a date?
         

Re:"Abnormal Activity" (2, Funny)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382101)

One must not let the slashdotter near bright light, especially sunlight, which can kill the slashdotter; one must not get water on the slashdotter; and, most importantly, one must never feed it after midnight.

Acceptance (1)

Exanon (1277926) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381595)

Sure, the market might accept a three-to-one failure rate. But what about the 3 guys who get locked up in a DHS holding cell, get waterboarded and then released without any means of setting the record straight just because they were lost in a shopping mall with a cakebox in their hands?

Re:Acceptance (3, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381789)

Jebus, what imaginations you people have. Who the hell is talking about arresting the false positives? There's a HUMAN IN THE LOOP. Someone is watching the alerts, which means innocent behavior gets discarded before the police show up. Fucking relax.

Re:Acceptance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382087)

Don't taze me, bro!

Re:Acceptance (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382875)

There wasn't even a mention of police. There was a -former- SS guy, who is not an 'IT consultant' that made 1 statement.

Someone else said it earlier: The main customer for this is private businesses, not the government.

And if we were going to protest private businesses monitoring us, that milestone was passed long ago. If you don't want to be monitored by a computer, don't shop at a retail store. Period.

Personally, I'm just not worried about it. I don't steal, and if some store accused me of it, I'd happily just never shop there again. (Best Buy once told me not to take pictures in their store because 'loss prevention' told them so... I've never been back to that store again. More like 'gain prevention' than 'loss'.)

Abnormally this: (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381617)

Machine: Uh oh, Jeremy stoped sticking his finger into his nose. I better call this one in!
Operator: Ummm... Why has it shown me Jeremy just sitting there?
Machine: Nope, there he goes again, digging away at his nose, everything back to normal. Better stop transmitting.
...
Machine: Whoa, he stopping barking for boogers again! Better show the boss!!
Operator: Why does this dumbass machine keep showing me Jeremy just sitting there for goodness sake...
Machine: Boss! Boss! Come on, look! DIFFERENT! ABNORMAL!
Operator: *Hmmm what's for lunch...*

bad headline (1)

Triv (181010) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381641)

Anyone else read that as "Video Surveillance TechNICIAN Detects Abnormal Activity"? I was confused for a bit.

One out of four ain't bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24381749)

'We think a three-to-one ratio of alerts to actual events is what the market will accept,' he says. 'We could be wrong.'

So, how many genuine terrorists have we caught in the last few years? Our current rate is several million to one. Three to one sounds good.

Re:One out of four ain't bad (0, Flamebait)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381963)

Well, there's over 20,000 people in U.S. custody in Iraq right now (not including several thousand more in Iraqi custody), the vast majority of which I would call terrorists (caught in direct action against U.S. troops, confirmed IED makers, snipers, members of almost every middle-eastern terrorist group, etc). We haven't even caught ONE million, let alone several, so your ratio must have been pulled from your AC troll ass.

Re:One out of four ain't bad (1)

JetScootr (319545) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382363)

"I would call terrorists (caught in direct action against U.S. troops"
Direct actions against soldiers invading a country is normally done by patriots and allies of the patriots, not terrorists.
The US employs snipers in Iraq also - are they terrorists by your definition?
US munitions companies make bombs that are dropped from planes in Iraq - are they terrorists, too?
Remember, the US president carried out the invasion of soveriegn nation recognized by the United Nations, overthrew its government and installed its own "friendly" government (despite elections, it is still a US-installed government).
All this occurred without Congress declaring war as required by the US Constitution and arguably in violation of the Presidential War Powers Act. Any characterizations of events and people in Iraq by the US gov't is highly suspect, to say the least.

Re:One out of four ain't bad (1, Troll)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382513)

Well, you obviously know much more about what's going on than I do. I just work in Iraq as an intelligence analyst...what do you do again?

The terrorists we've arrested are largely foreigners, so it's tough for me to accept them as "patriots". They indiscrimantly kill innocent Iraqis, which is the big reason behind the Anbar awakening. There have also been several that I know of that showed up in Iraq and realized it was all a mistake: the U.S. was doing the right thing, and the violence was due to Sunni vs Shia strife. It's a shame we don't get their stories out more.

U.S. troops in Iraq, including snipers, wear what we call "uniforms". Terrorists don't. Rules of Armed Conflict recognize combatants that wear uniforms. Is that clear enough of a distinction for you?

And let's not forget why the U.N. didn't approve the invasion. French officials were on the take in the Oil for Food program and France was selling MRBMs, which were forbidden under the UN resolutions it was approving. We were NEVER going to get their approval, or the approval of the numerous other countries participating in the corrupt Oil for Food program. Iraq violated over 20 U.N. resolutions with no repurcussions in sight, freely murdered their own people with chemical weapons, sponsored terrorist groups for over 20 yeas, and somehow Bush ended up the bad guy for taking a stand, actually doing something about it, and stopping it all.

And BTW, Congress voted overwhelmingly to support the president in sending troops to Iraq. Only in your vivid imagination is Bush responsible for everything you see bad in the world.

Re:One out of four ain't bad (1)

JetScootr (319545) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382787)

Sorry, I'm not intending to troll here. Maybe you're telling the absolute unbiased truth. Maybe you're not. I have no opinion on that, either way.
Here's what you don't see because of where you are and what you know: The US public does NOT know what's going on in Iraq. The government has lied to us repeatedly, "spin doctored" the truth, hidden facts that really didn't need to be hidden, controlled the media instead of allowing freely reported news of all viewpoints, etc. Not just about Iraq, but about everything having to do with "the war on terror". We can't trust what we're being told because those who speak have an agenda and have been caught lying.
As for them not wearing uniforms: where would they get them? We overthrew their gov't and destroyed or took over their infrastructure. As for them being foreigners: See my comment about "allies", and: So are we.
Since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, I've not heard one single editorial that was sharply critical of government policy. A few softball commentaries, "opponents say ...." kinda things, but no hard-hitting investigations, no tough questions or rough press conferences. It's all very well orchestrated, politely and orderly presented, etc. There's no coverage of the protests that are occuring in many cities, no coverage of people being harassed because of anti-war views, no politicians speaking out against the war.
How can that be, when the pres has the lowest approval rating of any pres ever? High ranking leaders and the media are not reflecting the views of the people, but desire of gov't to maintain order and support for an unpopular war.
You talk about foreigners attacking Iraqis - why are we even involved? Iraq is a mess, but it always has been. There's no amount of external force (US troops) that can fix that, no matter how well meaning or well behaved our troops are. The longer we stay, the more it will develop towards another Viet Nam.

Re:One out of four ain't bad (1, Troll)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382997)

All very good points. The U.S. public is largely unaware of what is going on here, but the governement is not to blame IMHO. The Public Affairs Office (PAO) issues hundreds of press releases a day (in fact, an unclassified summary of every single operation is written up every single day and sent to the PAO for release), however reporters are mostly only interested in casualties and deaths. Schools getting built are accurately reported and issued to the media but go unreported. Every report on something positive ends with how many soldiers died that day. Yes, there are startingly few outright critical reports in the mainstream media of the war, but I think that is mostly due to reporters tryig to stay in good graces with the White House so they continue to get leaked information, scoops, etc. They still paint the war as negatively as possible. The truely telling things about the war are never found in the press, like the fact there are 10 out of 18 provinces now under Iraqi Provincial Control (with another 6 on schedule to be turned over by the end of 2008), or the total number of foriegn fighters coming through Syria (where almost all foriegn fighters come through) every month is 50-60. These figures do not support the Iraq-as-Vietnam unwinable perpetual quagmire picture they want to paint, and are never reported. As such, I think the subtle bias in reporting is much more damaging than an outright stinging critique. This way, people have no idea the positions they hold are based on distorted information.

As for being involved, I think it's time we leave. Either things will get better, or more likely I think, Iran and Al Qaeda will both claim victory (in different ways, and perhaps not publicly) and end up fighting each other for control of Iraq. Let them.

Re:One out of four ain't bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382807)

and somehow Bush ended up the bad guy for taking a stand, actually doing something about it, and stopping it all.

...yep... all stopped now. thnx.

A ratio of three-to-one false alarms?! (3, Interesting)

misterhypno (978442) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381763)

If that's what they're shooting for, then I have a name for the system:

Cry Wolf!

Because, that's all it's really going to do!

Heaven help any street performer that gets caught by this video frankenstein's monster, because the cops will, in some jurisdictions, come in blasting away and a mime is a terrible thing to waste!

Re:A ratio of three-to-one false alarms?! (3, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24381913)

The ratio is 3-1 alerts to false alarms. That is, 4 events, three of which are real and one a false positive. Given the real events for which security personnel are going to be looking (mugging, rape, vandalism, etc), it would quite a while before 4 total events come to pass and only one of those was a false alarm. I would not call that crying wolf.

Re:A ratio of three-to-one false alarms?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382659)

Read that again, it says 3 alerts for every actual event.

Re:A ratio of three-to-one false alarms?! (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382683)

The ratio is 3-1 alerts to false alarms. That is, 4 events, three of which are real and one a false positive. Given the real events for which security personnel are going to be looking (mugging, rape, vandalism, etc), it would quite a while before 4 total events come to pass and only one of those was a false alarm. I would not call that crying wolf.

This has to depend on how often genuine events occur. For example, if they never occur, every alert will be a false positive. Obviously it wouldn't be deployed where no events ever occur, but this does show that the rate depends on the mix of actual events occurring.

Re:A ratio of three-to-one false alarms?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382689)

The ratio is 3-1 alerts to false alarms. That is, 4 events, three of which are real and one a false positive. Given the real events for which security personnel are going to be looking (mugging, rape, vandalism, etc), it would quite a while before 4 total events come to pass and only one of those was a false alarm. I would not call that crying wolf.

This guys has it completely backward and he gets modded +5! It's in the summary, 3 alerts to 1 actual event.

Re:A ratio of three-to-one false alarms?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382047)

... the cops will, in some jurisdictions, come in blasting away and a mime is a terrible thing to waste!

As long as the cops are using silencers, that is the only proper way.

Re:A ratio of three-to-one false alarms?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382781)

... a mime is a terrible thing to waste!

You've never wasted a mime have you?

Technically impossible (5, Interesting)

Potatomasher (798018) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382103)

I call shenanigans on this.

There is no way they can recognize 300 objects in real world conditions. I work in machine learning (academics) and the current record for generic object recognition sits at around 54-57% for the Caltech 101 database (contains images of 101 different objects). So basically the algorithms of the best and brightest minds in academia (LeCun, Poggio, Lowe, etc) get it wrong half the time !!

If any government officials are listening... Please don't waste our tax money on this !

Re:Technically impossible... (1)

JetScootr (319545) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382267)

Consider the 1970s era jet fighter Phantom II F-4. The leading edge of the wing required an extender to help it pull out of dives. The outboard wingends required an upward angle to stop flat spins. During development, the fuselage design was expanded to accommodate the fuel tanks the beast would need, and provision was made for up to three under-wing external fuel tanks. The nose had to be extended to make room for the combat radar defined in the original requirements.
And it had to fly with 4 degree nose-up pitch to maintain level flight.
When I worked on this ugly bird in the 1980s, we said it was actual proof that if you put engines big enough on anything, you can make it fly.
In all likelihood, that's what's gonna happen with all the gov't facial and behavioral "recognition" systems that are under development. They'll pour billions into development, and wait for the computing horsepower to catch up and make it possible to achieve "3-1 false positives" (25% ???). It'll be a monster, but they'll be able to claim "mission accomplished".

Re:Technically impossible (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382323)

Perhaps this is less generic though. I'm sure differentiation of say a motorbike, a car, a human, and a tree is a lot easier than a ball, a plate, and another generally round object.

I can see it now.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382151)

i imagine the code in this system.

IF color = black THEN

watch(person)

END IF

Nose pick alert! Nose pick alert! (1)

blankoboy (719577) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382299)

Great so now we'll all have to watch our basic movements and how close together we have certain objects. The future of freedom is looking so wonderful. Sigh....

Machine Readable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382389)

What application DOESN'T store video in a machine-readable language?

Unusual is abnormal (4, Insightful)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382397)

To the fool who tagged this 'unusualisnotabnormal':

You're wrong. Unusual and abnormal mean essentially the same thing - something out of the ordinary, something not routine.

If the point you were trying to make is that authorities shouldn't be suspicious of every unusual occurrence, then perhaps something like 'unusualisnotwrong' would have better served your purpose.

Re:Unusual is abnormal (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382777)

And that sort of thing is part of the reason why I disabled tags in my preferences - for every one good, useful tag there are half a dozen or more stupid, useless or just plain wrong ones.

Who is defining what 'abnormal' behaviour is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24382657)

The problem with this type of software is that it relies on a human being to provide the initial definition of what is or what is not abnormal behaviour.

A human being then points the camera and evaluates the results.

When we can put the cameras into the offices of the police and security forces, and into the politician's offices, and if we can then define which behaviour it is that we don't like in their activities - an inclination to use lethal force on demonstrators; an unearthly preference for military solutions over negotiation and compromise; a predilection for control over others etc. - then I think we will have made a positive step with this type of technology.

When all that is happening is that those in authority are making it easier for themselves to impose their own will on the rest of us, I have no faith in it's use.

just one more surrogate (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24382911)

just like the DVD became a nanny for kids, the tazer is becoming the defacto response for law enforcement. just like the airbag replaces the seatbelt for a lot of adults, the telephone has slowly turned into a tracking device for parents. (http://blogs.computerworld.com/node/2744) abnormal activity detection technology is likely to become a surrogate for actual law enforcement and security. if "motion zones" in cameras provide multiple false positives, which they do, this technology will find itself likely ignored just as quickly by an operator.

Is there a woman in red? (1)

wingbat (88117) | more than 5 years ago | (#24383023)

Can each observed object in the machine code feed be represented by a stream of shifting symbols streaming vertically down the display? Can you make them green?

Who let that guy open his mouth? (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#24383049)

From the company's President John Frazzini, a "U.S. Secret Service agent and IT security consultant:"

because the data collected by the cameras wasn't machine readable. We had to invent a way to do that.

I'm tempted to send off a resume. If they're hiring people stupid enough to claim that video is difficult to make machine-readable, as president, I've gotta be able to get a good position there.

Of course, it is impressive to offload that much analog data to a machine, and process it in real time (I wonder what kind of hardware this needs) but the wording of that statement is so fundamentally flawed that man should not be allowed to speak in public (and possibly not claim to be any sort of technical expert.)

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