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US Intelligence Wants To Radically Advance Facial Recognition Software

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the who-are-you dept.

United States 178

coondoggie writes "Identifying people from video streams or boatloads of images can be a daunting task for humans and computers. But a 4-year development program set to start in April 2014 known as Janus aims to develop software and algorithms that erase those problems and could radically alter the facial recognition world as we know it. Funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's 'high-risk, high-payoff research' group, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Janus 'seeks to improve face recognition performance using representations developed from real-world video and images instead of from calibrated and constrained collections.'"

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178 comments

It's like (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420685)

absolutely nothing happened these past five months.

Re:It's like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420893)

absolutely nothing happened these past five months.

It's like absolutely no one can figure out how the hell we got here.

Or perhaps the more logical conclusion (assuming at least half a brain exists) is that no one actually gives a shit.

Either way, I would agree that it's the largest elephant I've ever seen ignored in the house we all live in.

(Then again, if all you possess is a rusty spoon and a wet napkin to try and lure an elephant out of your house, you know you're pretty much fucked anyway.)

Re:It's like (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420985)

Or perhaps the more logical conclusion (assuming at least half a brain exists) is that no one actually gives a shit.

Everyone's still getting paid and laid, so no, no one gives a shit. Anyone who isn't getting paid or laid is a terrorist.

Re:It's like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421063)

Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be [imgur.com] true.

They do (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 8 months ago | (#45421117)

It's like absolutely no one can figure out how the hell we got here

While you may not be able to figure out what had happened, they sure do.

They had that planned all along, and they have greased all the palms that needed to be greased - from the politicians (from both sides of the aisle) to the corporate CEOs - that is how they got their PRISM (among all their many other_It's like absolutely no one can figure out how the hell we got here) schemes launched without anyone beating an eyelid.

Had it not because of a courageous squeeky wheel, ~ Edward Snowden, ~ they could have accomplished EVEN MORE !

Re:It's like (2)

SomeoneFromBelgium (3420851) | about 8 months ago | (#45420967)

...that situation when you shake hands with that guy from sales ... what's his name... well some face recognition sofware in my google glass that would wisper his name as a kind of soufleur could really come in handy.

Re:It's like (4, Insightful)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 8 months ago | (#45421005)

Nothing much did happen, other than a minor government holiday, Obamacare launched to a mess...

oh yea...

Snowden told us all something that we already knew, so nothing changed there.

Those of us who care, already knew. Those who didn't know, didn't care, or didn't want to know, or are too busy watching American Idol or Honey Boo Boo or whatever.

Re:It's like (5, Insightful)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 8 months ago | (#45421207)

Snowden told us all something that we already knew, so nothing changed there.

Just to be clear, Snowden told us something we all suspected, perhaps even strongly suspected as in almost accepted truth. But Snowden revealed these things we suspected. Concrete and clear, no doubts left.

Re:It's like (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421611)

Snowden told us all something that we already knew, so nothing changed there.

Just to be clear, Snowden told us something we all suspected, perhaps even strongly suspected as in almost accepted truth. But Snowden revealed these things we suspected. Concrete and clear, no doubts left.

Snowden told _all_ something _some_of_us_ suspected (with high probability). Before, mass surveillance was topic of only few and masses were ignoring us or calling us nuts. Now, masses are aware.

Here's where they got the udea (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421041)

I think they saw this picture last week, and a little light bulb popped up in their little heads.
http://www.businessinsider.com/crazy-photo-appears-to-show-60-security-cameras-on-one-intersection-in-china-2013-11

NSA Man 1: "Did you see those 60 CCTV cameras on a Chinese junction?"
NSA Man 2: "What would happen if we could intercept all those IP CCTV camera feeds and stuck facial recognition on them. Then we could monitor all 300 million potential terrorists!"
NSA Man 1: "Wow that is so constitutional, I'm glad we are the good guys"

Re:It's like (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421183)

Nothing DID happen as far as the spies are concerned. Sure, there was some hubbub about how they're using their toys; but the toy buying budget has not been cut, so it's the right moment to buy more toys. Especially as Christmas is coming up.

Re:It's like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421295)

absolutely nothing happened these past five months.

So what are you going to do about it? Nothing. You are just going to sit on your comfy chair and bitch about it on internet blogs. This is why nobody cares what you think.

Not enough in the air? (1)

0dugo0 (735093) | about 8 months ago | (#45420693)

What!? They were not using TV channels for development all this time?

Re:Not enough in the air? (1)

libtek (902569) | about 8 months ago | (#45420703)

"The V-Chip gives them sight" ~S.O.A.D., Spiders. Am I the only one that didn't know that the "Office of the Director of National Intelligence" even existed? I guess I know what I'll be reading up on tonite...

Re:Not enough in the air? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420839)

The faces on TV look all alike and nothing like anybody would go out on the street with. I'd add "particularly terrorists" but it has become increasingly clear that the NSA is not wasting all its resources just by keeping tabs on their purported targets. Heck, they are so busy jacking off to everybody that they can't bother following multiple explicit leads handed on a silver platter to them (Boston marathon anybody?).

They are not interested in the needles. They want the haystacks.

At any rate: the usual surveillance camera and its clientele presents quite a different job than a soap opera. Heck, most people would not recognize celebrity in street attire.

Re:Not enough in the air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420931)

That sounds like a perfect research material. If the system can recognize people who were masked by professionals they can surely recognize terrorists with fake moustache :D

THEY WANT TO DO WHAT?! (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 8 months ago | (#45420729)

is anyone else so incredibly surprised by this as i am? -_-

article modded down "DUH!"

Re:THEY WANT TO DO WHAT?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420851)

Mod parent duh. (/me came here to see no surprises comment, and was not disappointed)

In other news... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420733)

The sale of masks, hoodies and other feature obscuring items rose 1000%.

US Gov seeks to introduce a ban on all such items ASAP.
A spokesperson said basically, 'Think of all the children that can be saved from nasty people who hide their faces and scare the poor dears'.

A Patriot Act order closing to a website that identified the exact location of every facial recognition camera in the country was issued today

The Terrorist group 'Anonymous' started attacking the cameras themselves causing every picture that they sent to be changed into members of Congress, the house and senior Whitehouse staffers.

And so the war on freedom continues.
Is that a SWAT team I hear pulling up outside? Time to go...

Re:In other news... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420835)

Good reason to adopt the Muslim religion... You get to wear a burka!

That is British law already (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421405)

Sad to say, it is already a crime in the UK to wear a facemask if a policeman asks you to remove it.

Jacqui Smith was such a people hating cow.

Re:That is British law already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421565)

Is it a crime to shoot said policeman and buy stock in a pigfarm?

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421499)

The sale of masks, hoodies and other feature obscuring items rose 1000%.

And those will be the things that the face recognition software recognizes with enough accuracy to tase you.

Yay progress. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420739)

Can't wait to live in a dystopia.

Looking to the future of Fffacebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420749)

NSA know they can't rely on Fffacebook fffan crowd-sourcing to do the identification of people in images for ever. Always looking to the future.

In the meantime they're testing a new scam through Stanford - worried about what metadata reveals? - give your Fffacebook and phone records to Stanford and they'll prove it's a dumb move. Yes really! [slashdot.org]

And in other news... (1)

daitengu (172781) | about 8 months ago | (#45420775)

Water is wet and the sky is blue.

Re:And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420811)

dehydrated water isn't wet.

Re: And in other news... (3, Informative)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 8 months ago | (#45420905)

Dehydrated water isn't anything.

Re: And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421547)

So you are telling me that guy that sold me dehydrated water was lying?

I mean, how can it be a lie, it is powdered water that just needs more water to become liquid, how can you lie about a thing like that?
It is genius if you ask me. It should be on TV.

Re:And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421019)

Breaking news... Oranges are used to make orange juice.

Re:And in other news... (1)

KlomDark (6370) | about 8 months ago | (#45421673)

That's just what they want you to believe...

As expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420777)

Now that the NSA has all that data it makes sense to want to use it better. Having better facials recognition seems like a great idea, you'll have less false positives and faster finding of criminals.

The problem is that they have tons of data they should not have and i'ts not even usefull. The way it's most likely to be used is when something bad happens they can profile everyone and with enough data there is always someone who has behaved suspicious in some way, even though they had nothing to do with it. Guilty until proven innocent.

Re:As expected (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420797)

Having better facials recognition seems like a great idea

The technology may be impressive, but the government must be stopped from using it to further violate people's privacy.

and i'ts not even usefull.

The ability to harass practically anyone will likely prove quite useful to the government.

Re:As expected (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420937)

and i'ts not even usefull.

The ability to harass practically anyone will likely prove quite useful to the government.

Wow. And here I thought they had enough shit online tracking us today, along with the manipulative control to harass citizens (you won a free tax audit based on your party affiliation!) at the Federal level. What the hell was I thinking. Clearly the NSA budget is lacking. Yes, we need more of that. I'm sure that's the answer.

What's that? The average citizen unknowingly commits three felonies a day you say? And the government wants even more visibility into that? What could possibly go wrong?

Re:As expected (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#45420999)

nsa isn't supposed to be finding common criminals.

they aren't doing that anyhow, except on random personal basis.

Re:As expected (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421127)

nsa isn't supposed to be finding common criminals.

they aren't doing that anyhow, except on random personal basis.

And they aren't interested in finding terrorists (they got lots of leads far more explicit than their own intelligence for the Boston bombers and for 9/11 but were not interested in following up until after the fact).

They are out for securing their jobs. Curbing actual terrorism would be bad for that. It's more important to collect little dirt on senators, and little dirt on small fry and basically everyone that can be used for placating prosecutors and police by distributing selected scraps that they become fond of since it's good for their career.

Not much need to worry (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420829)

I've worked with current facial recognition systems and they're absolutely junk. They can match mug shots with perfect lighting but that's about all. It's a very long way to being able to pick people out of some crappy live video stream.
Mind, I worked with whatever's publicly available; maybe the various big brother agencies have better stuff; i wouldn't bet on it though.

Re:Not much need to worry (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421059)

Every picture on Facebook is scanned by Interpol by facial recognition software. Yes even the guy in the background that didn't know you took the picture. Interpol you say? Yep, that's why this whole fake outrage over the NSA is all bunk. They all work together, and have been for decades, spying on each other then sharing the information to bypass privacy laws in each country.

Re:Not much need to worry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421379)

No citation + modded up = Idiots with mod points.

Transitioning from academic to real world ... (4, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about 8 months ago | (#45421081)

I've worked with current facial recognition systems and they're absolutely junk. They can match mug shots with perfect lighting but that's about all. It's a very long way to being able to pick people out of some crappy live video stream. Mind, I worked with whatever's publicly available; maybe the various big brother agencies have better stuff; i wouldn't bet on it though.

A while ago I did a little research in computer vision. From the summary it seems like nothing more than moving a project from an academic project to a real world project.

In the academic world it is perfectly acceptable to use carefully selected or crafted inputs (facial images in this case) to develop and evaluate your algorithms. You may have separate date sets for development and evaluation, however careful selection or crafting is OK to simplify the project and avoid issues/variables outside of the project's scope. In your particular mugshot example this would be using images of good resolution and good/predictable lighting. Dealing with low resolution and bad lighting would be an issue left to the next thesis or research grant or for commercialization.

Working with mugshots may be a fluke, the inputs happen to be carefully crafted like one might do in academic research. So it was relatively simple to transition to this niche real world application.

Moving to a general real world solution using images and video of questionable quality is an enormous jump in the level of difficulty. Perhaps too difficult. It may not be possible to recognize an individual. It may only be possible to offer a somewhat generalized characterization that a person my fit into. At least with the haphazardly placed cameras typically found on the streets and in shops today. Some places use very good and carefully positioned cameras to get decent images for automated facial recognition. For example Las Vegas casinos.

Re:Not much need to worry (4, Interesting)

sifi (170630) | about 8 months ago | (#45421089)

Absolutely true. Even when they are 'accurate' they are of limited usefulness.

Assume that it's 99.9% accurate for a given success rate (wildly optimistic) That is for every 1000 faces you show it 1 is incorrectly flagged as matching.

Suppose that you have a list of 100 people you are 'interested' in. If the system is in an airport with 200,000 people per day - you are going to get 20,000 incorrect matches a day.

Re:Not much need to worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421297)

This is the Paradox of the False Positive. See http://thewhereblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/paradox-of-false-positive.html
Millions of dollars will be spent on this and innocent lives will be ruined.

Re:Not much need to worry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421315)

Erm, wow! /.er's can't even do basic maths now!?

99.9% of 200,000 is 200 NOT 20,000...

wow, I'm officially amazed, especially given the current +4 Interesting mod.

People wonder why we went AC.

Re:Not much need to worry (3, Insightful)

djmurdoch (306849) | about 8 months ago | (#45421341)

That's 200 false matches to each of the 100 targets. 200*100 = 20000.

Re:Not much need to worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421529)

I read it as for each 1000 people 999 were correctly identified for who they were, 1 person was Identified as someone they weren't.

Not, for each 1000 people 999 were correctly identified as being part of a group of 100 or not.

Why the assumption the software wouldn't know everyone (with a passports) face?

Re:Not much need to worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421343)

Did you try reading his post? Maybe you should, because then you wouldn't make yourself look like such a moron.

Re:Not much need to worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421361)

You went AC so people couldn't call you on it when you make hilarious gaffs like this.

Re:Not much need to worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421323)

But when you have many cameras, you can match many times from different angles and in different lighting conditions. Suppose failure rates primarily depend on the angle/lighting (big but somewhat plausible assumption). You can then attempt a match and only alert when at least 3 cameras give a match, for a 1 in 1000000000 failure rate, which would be considered acceptable by most reasonable people.

Re:Not much need to worry (2)

InsightfulPlusTwo (3416699) | about 8 months ago | (#45421339)

Your math appears to be correct for one camera. But what if the cameras are everywhere, and the same people are passing in front of the cameras, and they correlate the results? They can increase their certainty and filter out many of the false positives. In addition, for airports, since they have a known list of travelers, they can use this information to reduce the false positives still more. Finally, they can introduce secondary technology such as a 3-D body scan like a Kinect to reduce error still more. With multiple sources of information and technologies, the system becomes viable.

Re:Not much need to worry (3, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | about 8 months ago | (#45421423)

With multiple sources of information and technologies, the system becomes lucrative.

You will, however, get even more false positives. Which doesn't matter as long as the account balance for the scammers selling useless junk to gullible officials gets real positive.

Re:Not much need to worry (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | about 8 months ago | (#45421585)

You (and one of the ACs) are making the assumption that the cameras make errors independently. But the cameras don't make the decision, the central server does. There's only one of those, and if the data it has on a target happens to look like a different person, it will flag the data from all of the cameras in the same way. The fact that they all agree doesn't reduce that component of the 0.1% error rate.

Re:Not much need to worry (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#45421653)

They will simply fix the problems you and the GP mention.

Lighting? When you fly in to Japan they take a photo of your face in a well lit area, while at the same time taking your fingerprints. Expect airports to become very well lit in general.

False positives? Maybe for individual matches, but they will be making multiple match attempts against images of the same person captured multiple times from different angles by different cameras.

The government can change the rules of the game whenever it likes.

Re:Not much need to worry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421625)

I dunno man, the facial recognition in Picasa was actually fairly decent.

I'm not even going to lie, but generally I like to take pictures of the female form as they perform acts on camera for financial support, and generally even between various different poses, angles, lighting, camera quality, make-up, their system can find matches between those faces pretty god damn accurately. Dangerously good at it. It is scary.

Shame Picasa sucks now and corrupts its own database so much. What is this, the 90s? Fix that shit Google, corruptible databases is horrible-programmer tier levels of bad.

Americans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420847)

Get out now while you still can. Your only option seems to be to bleed your gov dry of all money since you are too big of pussies to do the right thing and execute every one of those corrupt sacks of shit, so tax deprivation seems to be your only hope. Do it now.

Re:Americans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420913)

You fuckers have been saying that for the past decade. Why should we leave? The corrupt sacks of shit are the ones who suck.

Mass emigration? Tax deprivation? You really really want a tax-starved former superpower with nukes to invade even more of the world to get its taxpayers back? Good luck with that plan. Hope your country is first, you fucking idiot.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420981)

Yeah it's pretty obvious rationalization is the real american way. A country with no tax payers and nukes.....one can only hope they would be stupid enough to actually use them. The speed with which the rest of the world would crush your so called super-power would be stunning. Idiot.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421013)

Global Thermonuclear War: The Final Solution To The America Problem

Hope you like to eat rocks.

Re:Americans (3, Insightful)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 8 months ago | (#45420973)

We no longer have the option to revolt and take our leaders out back and hang them, the way it would have been done in the past.

The only real way to remove our current government would be if the military did it.

Which wouldn't be so bad, so long as they don't try to run it. Throw all the current leaders out, call for new elections in 6 months, it would be a start anyway.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421243)

The only real way to remove our current government would be if the military did it.

Which wouldn't be so bad, so long as they don't try to run it. Throw all the current leaders out, call for new elections in 6 months, it would be a start anyway.

First you would need to come up with an electoral system actually commensurate with democracy. A system where even discounting registration fraud (hello, Jimmy Crow!) and voting fraud (hello, Diebold) the results are openly trashed and separate "popular votes" and "election results" are published, is not really democratic. Of course, congress is not interested in advancing democracy as compared to the state a few centuries ago, so there indeed seems little chance except throwing out all the incumbents and starting over to get the U.S. become a democracy worth its name.

This kind of crap would not be tolerated by the U.S. in any state it "liberated". At least not if it lead to the wrong people getting elected.

Re:Americans (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 8 months ago | (#45421471)

All it took for the Soviet Union was for it to vote itself out of existence.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421605)

All it took for the Soviet Union was for it to vote itself out of existence.

They didn't have the American electoral system distinguishing between what people vote for (popular vote) and what they get (election results). That was a system designed before telegraphs were invented. It's continued use is just for the sake of protecting the government from democracy.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420989)

Get out now while you still can. Your only option seems to be to bleed your gov dry of all money since you are too big of pussies to do the right thing and execute every one of those corrupt sacks of shit, so tax deprivation seems to be your only hope. Do it now.

Oh, how I love how others wax poetic about how fucked we are.

And then we remind those pussies to shut the fuck up and look in the mirror as a reminder of why we haven't left.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421033)

Sorry, we don't have mirrors in Canada. Too poor and backwards.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421265)

Spoken like someone who has never traveled outside their bubble.

Inevitable (5, Insightful)

Tim12s (209786) | about 8 months ago | (#45420867)

This is inevitable.

You need to continually track people's localized movements to reduce the total search space while obtaining multiple images of each person while they move; merging multiple images to get higher resolution images, over time (wind, rain, lipstic, changed hat, etc) all affect confidence, and then eventually match that to a known database of people.

Eventually, correlating time to location, credit card purchases, and cell phone, you'll have a perfect match. Your phone linked to email addresses will link your online identity and bam you get a full picture.

Of course, everyone who is not matched by this is a suspicious character since you're not in the database. Even sudden changes in appearance would signal suspicous behavior... why did you just put on a wig. Biggest trouble this database will have will be girls going to hair salons.

As someone from the US, you should eventually be in the database from birth. Anyone new, travelling from overseas will be suspicious. That doesnt mean its local to the US. With credit card databases, a few outsourced security firms and security cams globally monitored, you'll be tracked everywhere.

Who you meet for coffee, etc. Actually, that is the objective. Find who you meet for coffee.

Its going to happen because I can think about how to do this, so its possible.

Re:Inevitable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421095)

Its going to happen because I can think about how to do this, so its possible.

"Surely they wouldn't do that."

Man, it gets funnier and funnier saying that with a straight face.

Re:Inevitable (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 8 months ago | (#45421601)

Who you meet for coffee, etc. Actually, that is the objective. Find who you meet for coffee.

Actually no. The objective is find where d'you get that coffee [newyorker.com] .

Will not work. Period. (5, Informative)

fluch (126140) | about 8 months ago | (#45420869)

For similar reasons as described in https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/05/criminal_intent.html [schneier.com] it will not be usefull.

Re:Will not work. Period. (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 8 months ago | (#45421079)

Not necessarily. A high rate of false positives isn't so bad if you build up an oppressive totalitarian police state at the same time, one in which a myriad of intelligence agency employees investigate every positive match with the aid of targeted surveillance measures and tons of pre-existing data on file.

Re:Will not work. Period. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421509)

Not necessarily. A high rate of false positives isn't so bad if you build up an oppressive totalitarian police state at the same time, one in which a myriad of intelligence agency employees investigate every positive match with the aid of targeted surveillance measures and tons of pre-existing data on file.

"Better that a thousand innocents die than that one guilty person goes free!"

Re:Will not work. Period. (4, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 8 months ago | (#45421185)

Schneier's point can only be applied for cases in which the cost of a false positive is non-negligible compared to the benefit of a correct classification. E.g., if your test to identify a person infected with a lethal disease identifies all infected with a 100% success rate, but misidentifies 1% non-infected, and the treatment has a 2% chance of being lethal itself, this is a very bad test because you do not want to kill off 2% of the healthy population to treat a handful of sick people. If, however, the treatment is entirely innocuous, then you might consider the test to be a great one because it lets you cure everyone who is infected while not unduly burdening the larger healthy population. Or consider that you might have a very expensive secondary test which yields almost no false positives. If the first test is fast and cheap, then together you have an almost ideal system.

The federal government is largely chasing specters already -- how often do the TSA actually catch a terrorist? I doubt they mind too much about false-positives unless that number is totally extreme. Likely, they are interested in correlating this to other data. So, being flagged by itself is not a huge deal, although it might earn you a 'random screening'. But being flagged by facial recognition as someone on a watchlist, and being on a flight to Washington D.C., and having had someone in your hometown recently lookup terms related to assassination at a public library, and having a facebook profile with language indicating emotional stress could all wind up tied together by the government's surveillance program.

A good facial recognition system would be at least as useful as saying someone is 'wanted' on the evening news. But, as usual, the major question is whether we are going to tolerate the increasing formation of a big brother style government in order to reap these meager profits. (And, also as usual, the answer is probably yes.)

Re:Will not work. Period. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 8 months ago | (#45421457)

how often do the TSA actually catch a terrorist?

As far as TSA information to the general public goes, the answer is exactly "never". As in, they haven't really caught anybody seriously trying to engage in terrorism, ever, over the entire 12 years the TSA has existed. They apparently have managed to nab some other criminals (smugglers, traffickers, etc), but not terrorists. They also apparently catch people with guns and other "prohibited items" about once or twice a day, but it's unclear if those people actually presented any kind of threat to anyone.

Re:Will not work. Period. (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 8 months ago | (#45421191)

On the contrary, it will work. That will give an even more legitimate excuse to stop/arrest/interrogate/annoy/... anyone anywhere "that was identified thanks to a - sorry - yet inaccurate facial recognition technology".

And why ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420881)

Is this a bad thing? I can see a legitimate application for this, as long as the US doesn't follow the UK "camera on every corner to protect the kiddies" philosophy.
We should recognise that Snowden's leaks are good, but don't throw common sense out of the window.

Re:And why ... (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 8 months ago | (#45420933)

Is this a bad thing?

I don't think the technology itself is bad, but I also believe anyone with a brain knows it's going to be misused, and that's probably what people are afraid of.

Re: And why ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421003)

You could say the same thing about a fork, but I wouldn't suggest that we should fear or ban forks. We shouldn't fear potential abuse... We should fear a lack of moderation and oversight. Hence, this is why this article is FUD.

Re: And why ... (4, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 8 months ago | (#45421039)

You could say the same thing about a fork

Perhaps you should try to understand what I'm saying before you spew forth such things. A fork is wildly different from technology that will, in all likelihood, be used to aid in the violation of people's rights; history tells me it's an inevitability.

I also did not suggest a ban on the technology itself. I would not mind severely limiting the government's use of it, though.

We shouldn't fear potential abuse

I think that's an absolutely absurd statement. When talking about whether a government should have a certain power or not, I think it is very important to take into account how likely it is to abuse that power, how easy it is to abuse it, and how much it could be used to infringe upon people's liberties.

We should fear a lack of moderation and oversight.

We've all already seen how the government's oversight works; it simply doesn't.

Re:And why ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421085)

Is this a bad thing?

I don't think the technology itself is bad, but I also believe anyone with a brain knows it's going to be misused, and that's probably what people are afraid of.

Of course it can, and will, be misused, same as any technology that has come about throughout the history of humankind. Such is the nature of some of us. And it will also be used for things that are positive, catching criminals who escape justice many times before they're caught. And since the genie is now long out of the bottle, nothing is going to stop this tech from being refined, when it will get used, and abused. Welcome to the Newer, new brave new world.

And the beat goes on, the beat goes on....

Re:And why ... (1)

lxs (131946) | about 8 months ago | (#45421689)

The software is named after the god Janus who was two faced. Both literally and figuratively.
Nomen est omen.

Isn't going to help I expect, but.. (4, Interesting)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 8 months ago | (#45420889)

Get Poser, or something similar, and start replacing the face picks of all your contacts with pics of poser models asses selected for a best match to the contact's ass. Remember to find an appropriate image for companies and agencies. I'm thinking a Hydra would be appropriate for the NSA, Medusa for the FBI, Mantis for the CIA, etc.

Bonus points for doing r/g stereo of the images, or 3d if the phone supports that directly.

Re:Isn't going to help I expect, but.. (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45421153)

So every time I call someone, my ass is on the line?

Re:Isn't going to help I expect, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421201)

What the heck you talking about homes? You gots NSA phone# on your cell?..

You can take your recognition software... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420921)

...and shove it up your Janus.

That is all.

So what's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420929)

Automated drone strikes all over the U.S.A. based on the output of the surveillance cameras?

Boy, do I feel safer now.

Re:So what's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420935)

Automated drone strikes all over the U.S.A. based on the output of the surveillance cameras?

Boy, do I feel safer now.

"They wouldn't do that" get's a bit old by now, doesn't it?

Google Face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420953)

Google Face Search isn't good enough? Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful! Doesn't Google have everyone's face already?

US Intelligence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421009)

That seems contradictive.

Made my day. Just what we need. (1)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | about 8 months ago | (#45421067)

Go, US Intelligence!

you FAIL iAt!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421105)

'doing somethiN#g'

CV Dazzle! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421139)

Perhaps it's time to rund around like this [cvdazzle.com] .

I'm considering it in earnest. Sheesh. To think that I'm paying taxes to support this is really revolting.

Fr1st st0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421187)

Where this is headed (4, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#45421203)

The false positive problem is going to become a real nightmare for some unfortunate individuals accused of crimes based on incorrect identification by this system, especially if it gains enough traction in courts of law and enough precedent is established. You could also envision a scenario where certain unsavory types end up gaming the system to frame others for their crimes.

On one hand it's just a tool which can be used for good or ill. Unfortunately for the average citizen, law enforcement has a tendency to use all of the tools at its disposal against you in a court of law.

Re:Where this is headed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421245)

Its like you think no one will look at the images and will just read a text box with a name and go arrest that person.

Re:Where this is headed (4, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#45421303)

Of course they will look at the images. The problem arises because of the scale of the system: it can potentially sweep through tens of thousands of faces and do some cross-referencing of names and locations and oh look here it looks like someone who looks like so-and-so was at these places at these times and gee that's pretty compelling evidence because otherwise statistically it would be one hell of a coincidence that they weren't somehow involved in the crime, so likely they are guilty, when in fact it was nothing more than a coincidence. People have been convicted on much less. But, hell, in this society people seem to be OK with sending innocent people to jail as long as we get most of the bad ones (and as long as it isn't them).

You seem to underestimate the mercenary nature of US law enforcement. If they have you in their sights, they can and will use everything they have against you, both within and without a court of law. Just ask Aaron Swartz.

Re:Where this is headed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421545)

Sam Lowry: My name's Lowry. Sam Lowry. I've been told to report to Mr. Warrenn.
Porter - Information Retrieval: Thirtieth floor, sir. You're expected.
Sam Lowry: Um... don't you want to search me?
Porter - Information Retrieval: No sir.
Sam Lowry: Do you want to see my ID?
Porter - Information Retrieval: No need, sir.
Sam Lowry: But I could be anybody.
Porter - Information Retrieval: No you couldn't sir. This is Information Retrieval.

The problem with most geeks (4, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#45421277)

Is that when it comes to their work, they are essentially amoral. The likely use of a technology is secondary to the intellectual challenges posed by a scientific or engineering problem. The main thing is that a problem is "neat". Throw in a little bit of competition to get hearts racing and all managers have to do is sit back and wait for results. Thus we get crossbows, machine guns, nerve gas, nuclear warheads, smart bombs, mortgage-backed securities and surveillance systems. How many of the people who built these clevilish devices ever stopped to ask themselves: should I be doing this?. Maybe quite a few, but it still didn't stop most of them.

Sadly, I think this situation is unavoidable, for you always encounter the argument: "better that we build it before somebody else does". Which I suppose is a valid point: in this world it's either fuck or be fucked, and morality don't enter into it. If only I hadn't been raised on a steady diet of moral platitudes and stories of good triumphing over evil, I could be more at peace with this reality.

Re:The problem with most geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421501)

All of these 'entities' are made up of individuals. Each and every one of them has free-will. And will be judged by their actions in this life, the temporary one. We all will be judged individually. Live your life accordingly, is my advice.

Inevitble? It's already here.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421473)

They already have a perfect baseline of your facial characteristics, just look at your drive's license, or "liquor ID card" (for those that lost their license) or even your passport (if you have one.) It makes the algorithms "so much more accurate!" or "very nearly fool proof!" (read both: sarcasm (for the coming election campaigns) and as reality.)

Sadly, I have a driver's license, three gun permits (3 different states with photo), a passport and more.

FB users.... you now have my permission to tag away in those photos that I am I'm in the background of, it's w-a-y too late for me..

Tag: Save our children! Vote them ALL out now. Right here. Right now.

Breathe Deep (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 8 months ago | (#45421577)

Smell the Freedom(TM)!
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