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Caught Before the Act

michael posted more than 14 years ago | from the Enemy-of-the-State dept.

Science 399

bgp4 writes "New Scientist has a report on advances in video surveillance. Researchers in the UK have determined ways to pick out a criminal before he has actually committed the crime." Surveillance systems sound the alarm if you deviate from the routines expected of "law-abiding" citizens and track people from one camera to the next.

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Sunglasses (1)

Just LJ (93851) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472743)

Seems to me one needs to block access to their eyes then...

Guilty before inocent? (2)

lonely (32990) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472744)

This is a worrying trend that they look to label people before they do wrong. This sound like measure people's ears to tell if they are going to become a criminal, or Jewish.

But they if you know what the computer is looking for, then it will be much easier to spook. Maybe but then I have never tried to nick a car.

Also I can speak for many computing professional.... our normal day to day habits are so strange we would always be getting arrested and hasseled.

(Not that I haven't read the artical in detail, me I am waiting for the paper version!)

oh Fun!!! (3)

schporto (20516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472745)

Unless its illegal to try to fool these cameras then let's have fun. Pretend that you're about to steal your own car. When the alarms sound and you get arrested show them (ok that's a tough part) its your car. Then sue them for false arrest. Mmmm money making schemes in the morning. Yeah I know sueing is wrong, but in this case probably justified.

Seems awfully similar... (1)

King SPAM (15713) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472746)

Now there's a way to watch for those of us who veer too close to the deranged psychopath way of life. Just be sure that you're not an over achiever or a loner, or so says the FBI.

It seems like there's gonna be a lot of things to look for. Buying duct tape, knowing how to connect two wires, walking fast.

Scary! (1)

Mo B. Dick (100537) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472747)

That sounds scary! I dont want to be monitored, even if im not doing anything wrong! Have you ever seen the movie Demolition Man? That sounds like a scene from that movie! And who determines whats "law abiding" and whats not?

So much for freedom (3)

Fooknut (73366) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472748)

The day that the people can be stopped and questioned for simply deviating from our ruts in life is the day we have no more freedom. To me it looks like we've gone to "GUILTY until proven innocent". I want to be left alone until I do something wrong, not watched just in case I do. we are not babies. With this system, I'm sure those prying eyes would raise an eyebrow or at least and bump up surveilance if someone made a "legal", yet unannounced trip out of the country. It's amazing how every freedom we have is slow stripped away under the pretense that somehow it's all in stopping crime.
What a crock.

NewScientist web site... (1)

EricWright (16803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472749)

I don't know if this only happens to me, but everytime there is a post on /. referencing an article on, I find that their server is unavailable. I'd be highly surprised if this is the /. effect at work, considering they are a widely distrubuted and respected publication. I mean, they should be able to afford a good sysadmin and system that can handle a few thousand hits a minute!

In short, anyone got a mirror of this article?


Two problems with this (1)

Tucan (60206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472750)

The implication that one is innocent until "appearing not to be" must cause some concern. My greatest fear, however, is that by using video surveillance to prevent crime, the technology will inadvertantly cut down on the number of "stupid criminal acts" caught on video tape. Perhaps network television can invest in the idea to drum up some more prime time content.

Screw with them (3)

Jerky McNaughty (1391) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472751)

There must be 1,000's of people like me who would run around like a maniac doing things we're "not supposed to" but that aren't illegal just to make security freak out. It'd only be a matter of time before there are enough false alarms that they take the system out.

Re:oh Fun!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472752)

I often set off my own car alarm by accident - I could get quite wealthy with this *evil.grin* I also wear a long black trenchcoat wherever I go :)

Who decides what's normal? (1)

ChrisGB (114774) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472753)

Echoing what most people seem to agree on - surveillance and crime prevention is a good thing, but who decides what is 'normal' or 'social' behaviour? Some might argue that the practice of monitoring peoples behaviour and then judging them and sorting them based on their actions is not normal! Who watches the watcher?!

Big Brother or Big Auger? (2)

JamesSharman (91225) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472754)

I can't see how this would ever make it to active duty. Sure we took away the right to remain silent but are we going to take away the right to commit the crime before you are accused of it?

More seriously this might not be all that bad, sure if you get harased by the police for hanging around in a way the computer thinks is suspcious it would be a bad thing. If however these computers can recognize a bunch of guys in ski-masks drawing up outside the bank and clal th police then we are in a wholey diffrent ball game.

The tone of the article actualy describes something a bit less sinister, more along the lines of using the technology to alert a secrity guard which monitor it might be an idea to look at. I wonder how long it will take the crooks to work out the system though, imagine being able to fake it so the system suggests the guard pay attention to one monitor while you do something nasty on another.

Limitations (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472755)

These apply to the car-theft example, but you can fill in the blanks yourself.
1. The system supposes you know where your car is. If you wander in a seemingly aimless fashion, you're picked up.
2. In a car park, there're cars wizzing backwards and forwards all the time. Therefore, you'll be looking left and right quite a bit.
3. You see your car, but you can't find your alarm zapper. You slow down, fumble, not wanting to stand beside the car looking like a tit who can't find his keys.

In all of the above cases, you're framed. The camera's will follow you, and ignore the guy ten metres away who's nicking a porche.

This system is also incredibly suceptible to decoys.

takes any heat off, surely (2)

BenHmm (90784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472756)

undoubtedly you'll read lots of posts saying this will brand people guilty before proven etc etc etc

Actually, all this will do is direct attention to those who appear about to break the law - and with that everyone else will be ignored.

Security guards aren't usually the brightest lights on the tree, and so - if they can get away with just monitoring those their super computer system tells them too, they will. Just human nature.

Seems the rest of us will be left alone even more.

Besides...they'd still have to witness you actually doing something to be arrested. If your flagged up, but don't do anything then there's no problem - it isn't as if cctv doesn't already watch you right now.

Lovely. (4)

Chemical Serenity (1324) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472757)

This puts an entirely new spin on "Guilty until proven innocent". I can see a typical court case in an unpleasant future where the proceedings will go something like this:

Prosecution: According to our hueristic surveilance system, you were engaging in actions consistant with that of someone who planned on assassinating the High Commander. We know this because we've caught other people who've confessed to this selfsame crime that had the EXACT same movement patterns as you.

Defendant: Look, I was just hung over and heading off for my morning coffee...

Prosecution: Can you PROVE you were hung over? This sounds like a flimsy cover story to mask your true, murderous intensions! Where were you drinking the night before?

Defendant: Uhhh... I don't remember. I was drinking.

Prosecution: Your honor, we'd like to recommend the ultimate penalty... death by forcing the accused to listen to endless hours of Celine Dion albums until his brain leaks out his ears. Unless, of course, the defendant wishes to reveal the number and nature of his co-conspirators and thereby win himself favor in the eyes of the court...

Defendant: No! No! Anything but Celene Dion! I was gonna do it! All the guys I went drinking with were in on it, here... lemme write down the names...

Prosecution: Another triumph for justice...

Okay, this may be a little over the top, but it's not unheard of... the salem witch trials were conducted over little more than people's testimonial and a "known pattern of behavior" in which a witch was believed to engage. Should a system like this ever exist in a fully functional form, where it could be used as a tool directly to indict some poor schmoe, I'd say we'd slipped fully into an Orwellian nightmare and it's time for armed uprising.

Whoop, I better watch out. Maybe they can tell if I'm a potential threat by things I type. I'd better hide my black trenchcoat while I'm at it...

-- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

Thieves'll fool it, and we'll suffer (5)

Zigg (64962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472758)

A system like this is probably worth far less than the time invested in creating it. Yeah, sure, right now they can't fool it. But give them credit -- while your common criminal's pretty stupid, thieves are thieves because they are good at what they do. They'll relearn how to sneak and new ones will learn as they enter the ``trade''.

In the meantime, I imagine I'll be setting off lots of alarms. (Poor George, his donuts will go stale.) I suffer from ADD and it's not uncommon that I'll be striding purposefully somewhere one moment and forget what I was doing the next. That's got to look an awful lot like suspicious behavior to a computer.

Re:Guilty before inocent? (2)

GC (19160) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472759)

The whole idea is to track criminals with cameras - you have to know where to point the camera to gather evidence. Obviously is no crime is committed then the recording will be overwritten.

Incidentaly the UK prides itself on street surveillance. I believe we have the highest number of surveillance cameras per capita than any other country in the world. They've started to attach speakers to the cameras now... the virtual policeman has arrived!

Re:So much for freedom (3)

mattdm (1931) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472760)

I agree. It seems to me that our freedoms and rights as individuals are worth a few stolen cars.


Re:Well, this is the kind of thing you have to exp (1)

BenHmm (90784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472761)

if we still had guns, we'd need the cameras even more

Re:Screw with them (1)

Florian H. (6933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472762)

In that case they'd probably just outlaw to deliberatly confuse security sytems, and you will be caught in the act if you behave like this.

Appropriate analogy (2)

konstant (63560) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472763)

When contacting lawmakers about these issues or attempting to my express distrust of such systems to people who are content with surveillance, I generally use the following analogy.

Would you be comfortable if every citizen in your home town were assigned a personal police patrolman to follow them through their day and report suspicious behavior? Additionally, considering that digital image analysis is far from infallible, stipulate that your personal patrolman is drunk and spoiling for a fight.

Most people instinctively recoil from such a world. They simply need some prodding to realize that high technology (which they are assured is "their friend") can be used as an extension of the police state when in the wrong hands.


Re:NewScientist web site... (1)

jellicle (29746) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472764)

Their website is up and the article is available to me. Something funny about your net connection, I would guess. Have you tried accessing it through or some other proxy?

Michael Sims-michael at

Re:oh Fun!!! But be careful... (2)

HiRes (28255) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472765)

Pretend that you're about to steal your own car. When the alarms sound and you get arrested show them (ok that's a tough part) its your car. Then sue them for false arrest.

Yeah, and then watch them prosecute you on some other trumped-up, bulls**t charge to save face. Remember, John Law doesn't like to be mocked.

Then again, I could spoof my car theft as you suggested, get arrested anyway, then come and sue you for putting the idea in my head and inciting anarchy... Hmm, perhaps there's money to be made here yet!

Re:Guilty before inocent? (1)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472766)

This sound like measure people's ears to tell if they are going to become a criminal, or Jewish.
People have been using ears to tell if someone's becoming Jewish for decades, now.

Re:oh Fun!!! (1)

segmond (34052) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472767)

As a good citizen, you should not try to do such a thing, it is the equivalent of calling 911 and telling them you are about to kill your wife, and when the cops come and arrest you, you sue them for false arrest. Totally Bull. :-) The only difference here is that you spoke with actions instead of words.

Re:Screw with them (1)

segmond (34052) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472768)

Nah, you are very wrong. False alarms is only a bug, with time and A.I the system will grow to recgonize when you are trying to trigger a false alarm.

,,, (2)

Signail11 (123143) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472769)

This is even a worse violation of civil liberties than the plan to install cameras to locate known criminals based on facial recognition. To quote the referenced article "Once connected to such intelligent systems, closed- circuit television (CCTV) will shift from being a mainly passive device for gathering evidence after a crime, to a tool for crime prevention. But not everyone welcomes the prospect. The technology would ensure that every security screen is closely watched, though not by human eyes. It would bring with it a host of sinister possibilities and fuel people's fears over privacy."

The issue is not about privacy, so much as the essential presumption of innocence that underlies our jurisprudence. To use this technology to prevent crimes before they occur appears to be a noble goal, but as in so many other situations, we must consider the costs of such an action. The ends of reducing crime or preventing suicide cannot justify or be reconciled with this trend toward proactively indentifying "troublesome" elements (as with the tests meant to locate potentially unstable students).
From proactive location to preventive detention is but a small step on a slipperly slope away from the assumption of innocence to the assumption of guilt. What will occur next? Will there be facial emotion detectors that will sense discontent and alert authorities? It troubles me that so many people are willing to give up their freedom in exchange for the illusion of greater apparent security.

Flames? Think I'm a karma whore?

To fool the system.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472770)

"To fool the system, a thief would have to behave as though they owned the car, confidently walking up to it without casing it first or pausing to see if the real owner is nearby. In short, they have to stop behaving like a thief."

... or stop acting like you can't remember where you parked the damn car...

Re:Limitations (1)

segmond (34052) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472771)

No, you are wrong. The system uses a matheatical forumla, it can detect being lost and looking for a car to steal. When you are lost, you don't go to cars looking inside them, when you want to steal a car, you probably go very close to them, checking to see if the door is left open. On the other hand when you are lost, you usually stop, and look around from the same spot to see if you can spot your car. A car thief doesn't stop in a particular spot, find a car, and walk to it and steal it. It uses a matheatical pattern, these guys are not stupid for crying out loud.

Security Cameras (1)

Mr_Ceebs (60709) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472772)

I think that there's only one thing to do. what with all the CCTV cameras in the UK. we all need to go out and look suspicious at the same time. they'le then have the problem of separating out the troublemakers, those on the splendidly named 'care in the community' scheme and the rich but eccentric. should be easy to overload the system. if nothing else they'll be so busy chasing the suspicious looking, they won't have time to deal with people who are acting in a libertarian manner.

Yes but we have civil police (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472773)

Lots of people have written about faking crimes for the cameras, etc.

Remember this is the UK. the police ask questions (e.g. is this your car?) so there is a small chance of wrongful arrest.

They DON't turn up and randomly shoot people unlike somewhere else that is SO much better.

Re:oh Fun!!! (1)

mangino (1588) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472774)

Here in the US, telling somebody that you are going to kill your wife is a crime. It is, if nothing else, assault. Assault is talking about hurting someone or threatening them, battery is actually carrying it out. IANAL.

Mike Mangino Consultant, Analysts International

Re:So much for freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472775)

If you're not doing anything illegal, why would it matter if they ended up watching you? Accidently watching you while you are not doing something illegal will not hurt you in any way, shape or form. However it seems this system could help stop more criminals. So what is the problem? It doesn't hurt you in any way, but it does hurt criminals... ??? This isn't guilty until proven innocent --- they're not saying you committed a crime just because they're keeping an eye on you. You're innocent until they see you do something illegal. If you don't plan on committing any illegal activities then you shouldn't have anything to worry about if they are looking at you. The only 'freedom' I can see that is being stripped away is the ability to get away w/ committing a crime.

Plethora of Cameras (1)

pvente (89848) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472776)

What's more shocking (to me at least) here is the actual number of video cameras present in London when I was on business there a few months back. I couldn't walk anywhere without being in view of at least one or two or more cameras. For those readers across the pond, how do you feel about this ? Do you notice them ? Am I being paranoid ?

Scary, only if the people watcing give a rip (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472777)

Speaking as a security guard, I imagine many of your fears are too strong. Sure there will be some abuse. But most of the time, I bet the security people will just use it as a way to help decide which monitors to watch. Where I work, we have about 20 cameras, and 95% of the time nothing happens. trust me, it's easy to get bored and miss something. Especially if you're watching camera 2 and someone is stealing a car on camera 10. Most places have people on the floor to watch suspicious characters, and they have training for what is suspicious. I would trust them over this system any day; the human mind is the best pattern processor ever developed. SO good it can find patterns where there are none.

Even so, I do agree that this is some pretty scary stuff; because the margin of abuse is so high.

Just a tool (5)

davie (191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472778)

As the article points out--the point of the software is just to alert a security droid that someone is doing something "out of the ordinary." It's up to the droid to stare at the screen for a few seconds to see if mischief is afoot. Having been a security guard when I was a young man, I can tell you that it will probably take more then a blinking red light on a panel to get most guards off their asses.

No doubt, there will be poor implementations and poorly trained security personnel and this will lead to a few circumstances where folks will be collared "because the computer says you're a criminal!" Picky shoppers who like to take time browsing, picking things up and looking them over, etc. will probably be among the first victims. Nevertheless, used properly, this could be a useful tool.

I'm waiting for a handheld implementation--this system, coupled with a voice stress analyzer and an integrated cattle prod would come in very handy when dealing with salesmen. Hmm...I think I just had a great idea for a Springboard module.

Re:oh Fun!!! But be careful... (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472779)

Looks like you guys could be some potential RIAA lawyers. Sue everybody!

Real life is lagging (3)

IIH (33751) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472780)

And this is different to computer systems how?

Getting passwords wrong is "normal", but how many of you get an "alarm" to go off is someone gets it wrong several times?
A web site receives connections daily, how many people have alerts to tell them when the connection rate is "strangely" busy?
Your server uses CPU time all the time, but don't many people worry if the CPU is "unusually" high?
People send emails all the time, but wouldn't warning bells go off if it exceeded "expected" usage?

In lots of cases, there are systems to detect "unusual" activity, so long as that is used as a *indication* of a potential problem, and not *concrete proof* of an actual problem, I see no problem with it.


Re:Limitations (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472781)

when you want to steal a car, you probably go very close to them, checking to see if the door is left open.
If I were stealing a car, I'd walk slowly (but not too slowly) past all the cars, looking at the knobby-door-lock things (whatever they're called), but by moving my eyes, not my head (too much). If I saw one that was open, I'd climb in as I got to it.

In short, I'd act as if someone was watching me. Just like any clued-in thief would. I'd be trying to fool passers by, and would incidently fool the heuristics (probably).

oh dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472782)

every week, slashdot takes a step further into analysing hypothetical infringements on peoples privacy.

Can anyone HONESTLY envisage this following scenario?

"Mr J. Doe, you have been brought to this court by a computer-controlled surveilance camera which analysed your actions and thought you were going to commit a crime. how do you plead to the crime you were statistically going to commit?"


if cameras can "learn" to track peoples actions so that i am less likely to find a knife in my back at an ATM machine, then good for them!.

Re:Screw with them (2)

icing (94825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472783)

As long as your behavior is not considered as block a police action, you might be fine.
But then again security might sent you the bill for "wasting their time".

Or imagine the parking lot surveilled as belonging to a company. So, it's private ground and you are employed there. Would you still try to fool the system? I don't think so, since this might end up in your file at human resources.

Instead of using it for parking lots, imagine a system at your work place which tracks cases of sexual harassment. It would record how often you look other persons "up and down", etc. One less lawsuit for the company and the system pays off.


Re:Big Brother or Big Auger? (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472784)

Aye. A concern would be, as another poster noted, that guards pay *too* much attention to the system and not enough elsewhere.

Even w/o automated systems, there have been deliberate diversions of police before. If memory serves, at least one supremacist group had the habit of setting off small explosive devices in locations shortly before bank robberies elsewhere.

If some schmo is simply lurking around in the shadows -- which could be against loitering ordinances, but if he's not carrying anything incriminating perhaps not much more -- he could perhaps cause a guard to watch him, at least briefly.

Re:Well, this is the kind of thing you have to exp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472785)

You Brits really are sheeple, aren't you? If you can't see the dangerous actions of your government under Blair, you really should open your eyes. But then again, its "for the children." One day when all your freedoms are gone and you have no legal means left to oppose it, the only thing left will be to take up arms. Whoops. Can't do that. Don't have any.

Zoom Camera Three (3)

Cplus (79286) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472786)

The presence of the cameras bother me. I just found out a couple of days ago that the bar where I work part time had a camera in it for a six week police sting.

I wasn't doing anything illegal (just luck really) but doesn't everyone do weird shit when people aren't watching (or you think they aren't). Kung-Fu moves with pool cues, pretending to be a hummingbird, all recorded. The cops must have got a good laugh out of me.

I think that's the point really. How free can we feel if we know we're being watched. When I occasionally ride the subway, I find myself just sitting quietly anymore. In the past I know I would have been up to something weird just to amuse myself. Not illegal, not immoral, but weird and now I hesitate.

Oh yeah, Fuck the man.

Next to useless. (1)

MeanGene (17515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472787)

Like Maybank and Hogg, Grimson is still struggling to distinguish a meeting from a mugging.

Yeah, and the second order problem is to distinguish mugging from a mom actually giving her son money to buy ice-cream. The last time I checked, AI algorithms were incapable of distinguishing between cats and dogs. So this article should've been called Warning! My grant is about to run out. :)

Re:Thieves'll fool it, and we'll suffer (2)

searlea (95882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472788)

Me too.

Like you, I also suffer from Attention Defficiency Disorder. Sometimes while I'm out shopping I

Caught in the act? (3)

dkh2 (29130) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472789)

So, I'm standing around, bored out of my skull, waiting for my wife to finish trying on lingerie, and the Victoria's Secret Supermodel SWAT Team hustles me into a back room, ties me up and starts with the interrogation. How cool is that!?

Seriously, folks. This is kinda scary. It borders on arresting people with a different skin color for agitating the masses by sitting in the fair skinned peoples section.
Una piccola canzone, un piccolo ballo, poco seltzer giù i vostri pantaloni.

exciting, but will it contrevene personal privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472790)

Interesting article as it shows that a system is built around basic path movement analysis rather than advanced face/person detection systems can work. Dependant on its use it should not affect personal privacy in public surrounds. Following one of their examples, CCTV's monitoring a car pack have by nature a controller monitoring each camera - either live or on a playback recording ... if anything the latter is more of a privacy infringement that an automatic 'live' detection system (i.e. to wake up the human monitor !) which is impartial to the personal under survailance. If a model exists for movement behaviour , this escapes any possible social/creed discrimination. At the end of the day, what will make you feel more safe in your surrounds, people / CPU's trying to protect you or your property or the 'it infringes my privacy, I'm not interested' , the latter in many cases is overused ... Anyway thats my $.02 up for discussion

Suspicious Minds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472791)

The people who invented this should be put under surveillance. Obviously, they have a guilty conscience, otherwise they wouldn't know how guilty people act...

Re:oh Fun!!! (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472792)

Anyone remember from the 80's, when the anti-terrorist squad opened fire, without warning, on an innocent man driving to work, because someone thought he looked a bit like an IRA suspect?

If I were you, I'd be -very- careful about fooling those cameras. Britain may have -very- strict gun laws (including for the police), but that doesn't apply to Armed Response Units, Anti-Terrorist Units, wannabe gunslingers hired as airport security, yadda yadda yadda.

Also, beware the Economic League, and the various real-life "police action" TV shows. These are entirely happy to (ab)use CCTV footage for their own ends. Unless you particularly want to become an inadvertant celebrity on national TV, you might want to be a little careful round CCTV cameras.

Besides the risks of catching bullets, or becoming an infamous arch-criminal in the TV viewer's eyes, there's always the risk of the camera owners selling the footage to insurance companies, prospective employers, vigilante groups, etc. I imagine that such people would enjoy watching such tapes. I imagine anyone on said tapes might think otherwise, after a while.

This, IMHO, is why privacy should be paramount. The risks of abuse of surveilance equiptment are, at present, simply too great. There are few, if any, safeguards in any country (the UK has perhaps the best, and those are practically non-existant) and the risks far and away outweigh any imaginable benefit.

Re:oh Fun!!! (1)

palutke (58340) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472793)

If enough people do this, it will cease to be statistically deviant from the normal pattern. It'll make the surveillance less effective, but make it easier to successfully steal your car.

All new technology is a tradeoff (1)

geekfuzz (71255) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472794)

Cleary, the development of this technology could come dangerously close to invading the privacy of every one of us. But isn't that the risk we all take with the advancements in technology? Consider nanotechnology, for example. Let us assume that a nanobot is constructed that uses some sort of triangulation device to give a GPS reading. Suddenly, every citizen and enemy of the state is trackable. Computer systems analyze movement patterns, forming more and more conclusions... et cetera. The implications are incredibly far-reaching.

All new technology is a trade off. This new system of recognizing behavior patterns may make your next plane trip less likely to have a terrorist aboard. Or stop your car from being broken into in a parking garage. We must simply, as a society, decide which is more important to us: our privacy or our safety. But, you might object, we shouldn't be forced to choose. Quite frankly, I couldn't agree more. We, as a community and as a society must not allow corporations to make these choices for us...

Darn slashdotters (1)

segmond (34052) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472795)

This technology is very revolutionary, yet, It seems a lot of people are dissing it. First of all, people are saying that it can easily be fooled. What these people forget is one, this technology is in its infancy so, yes it can be fooled today. But with time and advancement of A.I, these bugs will be worked out. For example, a person is represented as a line in this system, in the future with advancement in image recognition, we will be able to see what a person has in his or her hand. Having a key in your hand doesn't make you a thief, having a crowbar is another story.

A lot of the people bickering over this, didn't appear to read entire article. You do not get arrested just because the computer sounded an alarm. There is a human being there, when the alarm sounds, a replay of the reason the alarm is sounded is done. This human uses this to verify that you didn't do anything wrong. By the way, you are not "arrested", you are stopped and questioned, there is nothing illegal about stopping someone to question them about a strange activity.

The potential for this is great, Yes, there are fears, that perhaps one day all these cameras will be joined and controlled by one big computer, and it can track your movement from Detroit to London, sure sure. You will not be alive by then, so stop worrying. You watch too much TeeVee.

The most exciting thing about this technology is that it is showing advacenment in image recognition, 3d mapping of real world environments, artificial intelligents and many other interesting computer fields.

Oh yeah, and for those of you thinking you can have fun, by sounding false alarms. Be ready to get arrested, it is simply like sounding a false alarm that their is a fire, or calling 911 and telling them you have a heart attack.

Anyway, If this succeeds, lots of cameras will be sold, so if you have money, keep an eye on companys that make cameras. Or better yet, start such a company. ;-)

Lemme guess.... (2)

Rabbins (70965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472796)

I think I can guess how this "technology" is going to work:

If you look and act like a young black male.... you are suspect to being a criminal.

The Frog and the Well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472797)

If anyone's unfamiliar with the Frog in the Well math exercise, the basic premise is that every night the frog jumps up three feet and falls back another two -- how many days does it take him to climb out? This seems like what technology has been doing lately. A computer program that can, by washing away all of the complex formulations that had previously been thought necessary, track objects as being persons, dogs or cars is a breakthrough that has applications beyond the early apprehension of criminalistic folk, simply because it provides a new model for people doing research in other, semi-connected areas of computer object recognition to examine. The fact that it its application will be in such a 1984-esque way is disturbing. After watching a good movie, people will be harassed for acting too much like the clever thiefs just witnessed on the silver screen. People suffering from chronic nervousness will be interrogated before they can enter their car -- something I'm sure they will appreciate. People who exhibit behaviour outside of the norm, automobile fanatics, and sufferers of muscular disorder will be on pre-emptive trial. I can't wait for the day when a computer program is written that bases assumptions regarding criminalistic behaviour from the beadiness of eyes. Good gracious! The repercussions of this are terrible too. If this becomes a global standard, people who don't feel like crossing paths with the law at every junction will have to pay careful attention to acting as normal as possible. So long, individuality. I wonder when that poor little Froggie's going to make his way out of the well. -l

Crawl, Billy, crawl! (1)

marcinka (79004) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472798)

According to the text all a thief must do is being "long and low".

"Be a car. Think a car. Then you'll get a car."

Liberty, Privacy, and Mores (2)

Rachovenov (96443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472799)

First, I have two quotes:

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding" -Louis Brandeis

"They that can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

I'm not going to use the slippery slope argument, crying, "Where would this stop? Would we have thought police coming to our doors and dragging us off for preemptive rehabilitation? Shall we revamp the calender? Shall it be 1984 forever?"

As persuasive as that argument might be, it isn't valid. A better attack on this kind of crime fighting can be constructed by analyzing the very basis of pre-crime recognition. Who decides what is "normal" behavior? "Normal" behavior definitely wouldn't include looking admiringly at another's Ferrari, walking around to look in the interior. Or maybe reading a bumper sticker. What would constitute pre-crime activity would be completely relative to the culture. It would be a violation of social mores; and in violating these mores by acting "abnormally", we would then be guilty of showing "evidence" of the crime of thinking about a crime. How, may I ask, can I then prove my innocence of a crime that consists of violating some programmer's subjective view of "normal" behavior?

Do we have a right to privacy and a right to liberty (of which the right to privacy is part and parcel) within the scope of public view? Do we only have those rights when we are on our own premises? Or are they universal? If I am an employee, or even worse, a pedestrian in a parking lot, do I have a right to liberty, including by legal definition privacy?

Any legal system that endorsed this crime prevention method is, whether it recognizes it or not, saying "NO!" to every one of these questions.

Re:oh Fun!!! But be careful... (1)

spodpit (27013) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472800)

> Yeah, and then watch them prosecute you on some other trumped-up, bulls**t charge to save face.

The one that springs to mind is "wasting police time" ...

Logic loopholes (1)

JM_the_Great (70802) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472801)

Suppose there's a car thief in the parking lot. He looks suspicious and you call the
cops. Great, what has he done? The cops have no legal right to arrest him, and he
goes free, even if he was goingtto steal a car. Great.

And, as pointed out already, somebody who know what the computer is looking
for and dosen't do it (or, does it, but with no intention of
stealing the car...)

Anyway, I guess we're now guilty until proven innocent, ain't America great *snicker*.

The English Always Need Someone To Oppress (0)

TheHornedOne (50252) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472802)

Now that the 13 colonies kicked their red-coated asses, India ran them out on their ear, Australia is getting ready to depose the Queen, and there's peace in Ireland, the English have realized they have noone left to oppress and dehumanize but themselves. More power to them, I say. Too long on that rainy island.

Re:Plethora of Cameras (1)

Avoiderman (82105) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472803)

I notice them ... unfortunately I think many of my fellow Brits don't, any one speaking out against them is often also labelled at pro-crime, if anyone breaks past the apathy level, that is .... personally I dislike them & am all for acting suspiciously in front of them :)

This thing isn't so evil... (1)

Dilbert_ (17488) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472804)

All it does after all is flag behaviour that is perceived as abnormal, taking away attention from 'normal' behaviour. So what ? I would be worried more if they started passing laws making it illegal to behave abnormally. But until then ? Why should I care ? These systems look for behaviour patterns, not for identification. So they don't know who you are, just that you are behaving strangely. Who cares, except for some poor dolt watching the video screens in the basement ?

And by the way... They mentioned an example in the article of a future 'George' at an airport, talking to his security computer and detecting a bomb between eating donuts and reading the paper. They then said that only the speech technology in the article wasn't available yet. Well, it is ! I happen to work at a company that makes that kind of stuff.

Re:Zoom Camera Three (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472805)

"pretending to be a hummingbird"


Slight oversights? (1)

.pentai. (37595) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472806)

"Ugh, did you see that, he wiped his nose on his normal law abiding citizen would do that!"

"Oh my god, he didn't help that lady up, get the cameras ready!"

Ok, bad examples, but the point is, you can't follow what people do and try to make expectations. Most humans are by desire unpredictable, they will do what they can to be, because it gets them noticed. You can't see certain acts as defining a criminal (other than breaking a law) just because it's not what's expected...otherwise people like my friends and I will constantly have a camera crew after us :P

Annoyance Suppression (5)

Effugas (2378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472807)

An interesting article--suprisingly well thought out, particularly on the part of the doubting inventors. I particularly like the quote, "This is like justifying road accidents because they provide hospital beds." I'm going to end up using that quite a bit.

Alot of the sins that people are about to complain about aren't really ascribable to this automated system--yes, you can track many more people, but the bottom line is that if you accept surveilance at all--video, armed guard, or whatnot--everything from doing cartwheels to loitering with some friends is being monitored.

But as long as a human's watching, it's not truly annoying anyone.

Therein lies the rub. The real problem with these systems is that the "George's"(dumb+cheap security guards, think Half-Life) of the world won't be happy being interrupted by false positives. No matter how tuned these systems get, there will always be perfectly innocuous activities that will trigger the alarms. There will end up being innocuous classes of behavior which cannot be trained *out* of the system, since to do so would be to cause the system to miss too many postive events.

A security shift supervisor can tell a rookie to not bug him about some stupid kid smoking a cigarette instead of catching the bus, but these guy's system will be forced to blare every time someone lights up.

Suddenly, all the human ugliness of sexism, racism, and agism comes into play, and entire swaths of society will be deemed worthwhile to forcibly teach not to trigger the dumb(by human standards) sensor arrays. Suddenly, the limits of the technology drive the law, first unwritten, then made official.

Don't flirt in a certain manner--it causes the sensors to think you're a rapist. Don't laugh too loud while raising your hands--the sensors might think you have a gun. Don't miss your train too many times, or you'll no longer be welcome at the station.

I actually find this tragic--this is a very cool technology that has uses all over the place, from security analysis to environmental monitoring. I think these are the first inventors I've seen who have a grasp on just where their technology might go, and immediately express hope that society as a whole will grapple with what they've done. Is this the model of technological ethics? Honest scientists creating what they can, hoping not that all will be right but that the good will outweigh the misuse, and the abuse will be suppressed by legal means?

Interesting to think about. After reading about the gait analysis technology, perhaps good posture will once again be mandatory...

Yours Truly,

Dan Kaminsky
DoxPara Research

Re:Plethora of Cameras (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472808)

No, you're not being paranoid...there all over the place here. Wouldn't be surprised if there was one in the commode I used on my way home from work this morning. Now what I want to know is who do talk to about collecting royalties on all these images of myself floating about?

Re:Well, this is the kind of thing you have to exp (1)

Avoiderman (82105) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472809)

Well thanks for the strength of your convictions in posting anonymously ;)

I don't think Blair has any idea of making the UK a police state - the media runs the country more than the government anyway ...

... as a side note, we have far far less death due to accdental shootings, children getting hold of guns etc....

... a civilized society has no need for killing tools ....

Way too easy to fool (1)

dmuth (14143) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472810)

Given that I've been known to do crazy things such as weari ng a leopard tail and collar and climbing street poles [] in major cities, for the sole purpose of freaking out other people on the street, and given the number of real "whackos" in any particular city, I think there would be far too much "deviant" activity for it to be possibly monitored.

Yeah, that's the ticket, let's all wear tails and collars around cities! Furries unite! :-)

Proportionality (2)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472811)

England is so full of CCTV's because in some areas of England, crime rates are ridiculously high. One of the researchers who did this stuff is from Leeds University. I did my PhD there and my car was broken into twice, my house three times and I was attacked once. All that in 4 years. When things get out of hand, special measures have to be taken. I now live in a much quieter part of the world where when a car is stolen, it's headlines in the newspapers. I'd be really pissed off if they start putting CCTV's everywhere here. It all depends on what measures are necessary to keep life livable.
That's another way to see things anyway.

CCTV - better than guns (1)

Nexus Seven (112882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472812)

I'm always amazed by American attempts to preach civil liberties to Europeans.

Here in the UK we prefer closed circuit TV systems
to guns. CCTV cameras won't blow your head off, if they're acivated by mistake.

You only need be worried about them if you've broken the law. (Wrongful arrest is an unusal thing in the UK because the police do their job and are accountable for their decisions).

Without the gun culture and a racist/right wing establishment, Europe is a much freer and 'civil' place to live. American freedom seems to be the freedom to do what YOU want, no matter what detrimental effect it has on society as a whole. Although socialism is just as crap, the concept of making a few sacrafices to help the majority is one America should begin to learn.

Re:Guilty before inocent? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472813)

>> This sound like measure people's ears to tell
>> if they are going to become a criminal, or
>> Jewish.

> People have been using ears to tell if someone's
> becoming Jewish for decades, now

Yea, but they have been using something else for
a lot longer....since the roman empire even....

"A Jew Huh?"
"I swear I jumped and he missed, I go in on
tuesday they give me a local snip and its done"

Well in the Jewish community...we know who gets
the best tips ;)


Re:Plethora of Cameras (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472814)

I live and work in London (well, I live on the outskirts, but work right in the heart).

I do notice the cameras from time to time, but almost certainly miss most of them.

I am not at all happy about them being there.

Regardless of the merits of this research, if it is "successfully" implemented, we will see an absolute explosion in the number of cameras on our streets. This is the real worry. Not what the cameras are being used for, but what they could be used for, if they ever came under the control of the wrong people.

If we are not careful there will come a time, here in the UK, where your every step, from the front door of your house to the front door of your workplace, is caught on a camera. If it is only a person/number of persons sat in front of monitors, not paying much attention, then there's not such a big problem with this (although I'd still feel very unhappy about it).

If, however, the technology exists for a computer system to track your movements reliably throughout your journey, then there exists a huge potential for misuse. Imagine if everywhere you went and everyone you spoke to was noted down. Should any of those people or places become the subject of an investigation (criminal or otherwise), you are bound to become involved, whether you have anything to do with it or not.

As I have said in replies to other threads, what if the UK does become a totalitarian state? It's certainly moving in that direction - harsh penalities proposed for non-surrender of crypto keys (E-Commerce Bill), more and more cameras on streets, public transport, etc, active research into systems such as this...

We would be in a situation where your every move can be watched, your every communication monitored.

This is not a future I particularly want to see, and I'm damned if it's the future I want my baby daughter to grow up into.


Re:So much for freedom (1)

Balance (11283) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472815)

Maybe if they arrest you after stealing the car/mugging that person/etc... then they have a right to go after you. but they shouldn't be able to do anything to you until you commit the crime. Looking like you are about to commit a crime doesn't count.

Culling the sheep. (1)

bons (119581) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472816)

Actually this strikes me as useful. Very Useful.
What has essentially been developed is an automated method of determining abnormal behavior and classifying that abnormal behavior.
Now normally, most of us are against the sort of behavior scoring that classifies kids as potential Hellmouths but let's think this over.
Could we use this tool to find those rotten kids that are always getting others to pick on someone?
Could we use this tool to help find the people who actually have creative ideas in our organization?
Could we use this toll to find the creative misfits? Robert Anton Wilson [] would have LOVED to use this stuff in Illuminatius. Think of the possibilities.

And if that doesn't work, someone will probably use it to find a date. "According to our cameras, the new intern is very likely to be a slut, Mr. President."

Ken Boucher

Just remember... (1)

CYberPhreak (5569) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472817)

Big Brother is watching you...

War Is Peace

Freedom Is Slavery

Ketchup is a Vegetable

~ /usr/games/fortune

Re:Screw with them (1)

spiralx (97066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472818)

Indeed. If I got logged every time I looked at someone like that I'd probably have a huge count :) Better hope they've specified a large enough field to store the count.

Re:Plethora of Cameras (2)

anothersmith (123839) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472819)

As someone "across the pond" I will respond to this one and take the flames.

Most of these cameras aren't obvious to the casual observer. Those that are tend not to be reachable even if you wanted to take a baseball bat to them.

You can't hide in your house all the time, you have to use public spaces and you can't stop these cameras being deployed. Basically you have to ignore them or go nuts.

Unfortunately if anything crime (or maybe fear of crime) in London is higher than ever. Someone I know was beaten by a gang of thugs in full view of a CCTV camera very recently. No one has been caught.

I think the proponents of these things amongst the police are using the old "criminals are stupid and we are clever" argument. They claim all kinds of abilities for the software driving them that are clearly not practical in the hope that people will fall for it and do their crimes elsewhere. Next they'll be claiming to spot people who are thinking about comitting a crime.

Celine Dion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472820)

Dude, you are one sick, sadistic bastard. :)

Winston (1)

MrEfficient (82395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472821)

I think it would be a great idea to have viewscreens with cameras in them installed in our houses. We could watch tv while the government kept an eye on us at the same time. If we did anything suspicious, they could rush in and save us from our own pervertedness.

Fortunately, I have a little corner in my apartment where I could hide from any such viewscreen and write in my journal.

Do you smell cabbage?

No! Anything but that... (0)

spiralx (97066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472822)

I think that being forced to listen to Celene Dion is outlawed by the Geneva Convention :) And if it isn't, it should be.

Re:NewScientist web site... (1)

Donavan (116398) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472823)

Funny, It wasn;t availble to me on my link nor here at work.

Re:So much for freedom (1)

Gurlia (110988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472824)

Well, it all depends on how the system is used. Remember that the system only alerts "George" to the possibility of crime. As long as the human behind the sounding alarm knows what he's doing, this shouldn't be a problem.

The only thing is, how do we guarantee that "George" doesn't start trusting the system more than common sense and sound judgment? Yes, they probably have to go through training and stuff like that, but still, there no 100% guarantee that "George" may have ulterior motives or just too naive in believing the system when the alarm goes off, and uses that as "proof" to get on somebody's case.

IMHO this kind of system only helps prevent petty crimes and spot naive criminals (and in the meantime, probably wrongly "spots" many innocent people as well). Those who get the false sense that such systems will "reduce crime" are deceiving themselves. It only reduces petty crimes, but could have the nasty side-effect of motivating criminal-wannabes to employ more sophisticated detection-avoiding techniques. (I.e., instead of preventing crime, the system has encouraged criminals to strive for more refined criminal skills that would evade detection.)

The problem is that with all the hype about this "new technology", people will tend to put more "trust" in these systems than is appropriate. Unless the limitations of the system are clearly spelled out for its users, we have another case of hurting innocent people to (incompletely) reduce crime.

Re:oh Fun!!! (2)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472825)

So you have your fun, get the cameras to watch you "pretend" to steal the car. Now, and for the rest of your life, the cameras will be closely watching every move you ever make. When the country-wide network is built, your history will be shared. You're a trouble maker and the computer knows you. Once a non-conformist, always a non-conformist. It will never forget your face and will always watch you. You'll begin to get a little paranoid. Suspicious that someone's watching you. As you walk down the street, the cameras will turn to follow you. The guard at your local bank will nervously feel for his revolver when you enter. The teller will stutter when talking to you. You'll have trouble getting work. Others will notice the cameras turning to watch you and they, too, will be suspicious of you. No one will make eye contact with you. You're not paranoid, you've made the system paranoid of you. You'd better never Jaywalk again...

Re:Zoom Camera Three (1)

guran (98325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472826)

Yeah, it is not the "look for unusual behaviour" routine that is a problem. It is having a surveillance camera there in the first place.

I cant think of any situation where this system would bother me where I would not allready be bothered by the cameras

IMHO there is fair use for surveillance cameras in places like parking lots, subway stations etc. as long as:
a) Those areas are clearly labeled "TV monitored area"
b) All footage not used for evidence is destroyed (not featured on cable TV)

Any other surveillance cameras should be illegal. (and, yes that goes for the webcam looking out of your window too)

If used this way, this system will only serve to filter out "normal" people, thus making it *less* likely that I show up on tape. (if the system consider me normal, that is)

Re:Caught in the act? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472827)

bored out of my skull, waiting for my wife to finish trying on lingerie, If you are bored when your wife tries on lingerie, you have more problems than just Victoria's Secret SWAT team.

Re:oh dear, you're still dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472828)

What in the hell is a camera going to do for you in this situation? *Maybe* help the cops catch the guy who stabbed you?

Some consolation eh? Being that you're dead and all....

Re:CCTV - better than guns (1)

JeremyH (91289) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472829)

Funny how you complain about Americans preaching to Europeans, but yet you see nothing wrong with preaching to Americans. . .

Re:The English Always Need Someone To Oppress (1)

BenHmm (90784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472830)

we don't oppress or monitor any less, we've just learnt to cover our tracks better.

you looked fantastic last night, by the way.

Re:oh Fun!!! (1)

migwa (19092) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472831)

As a good citizen, one shouldn't do that? As a good citizen I would not stand idely by and allow myself and my friends be watched in such an intrusive, unconstitutional manner. Civil disobediance can make a powerful statement.

Ok now... (1)

Ccaves (104671) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472832)

I think all these paranoid delusions are affecting everyones sense of judgement. I seriously doubt that the government gives a flying flip what us normal/even abnormal law abiding citizens do. I think that they are trying ways to crack down on the people who break the law. How many of you had your car stolen? I have, and I hate to say I didnt find that a pleasent situation, I wanted to find that bastard and bend both of his legs the wrong way, many many times. I WANT there to be a way to catch the criminal IN the act, I highly doubt there going to stop you on the side of the street just cause you got long hear and maybe a tattoo. If they did then there would be some seriously large lawsuits going on against the government for breaking civil liberties and serval constitutional amendments. Its not the end of your freedoms, but the end of criminals if it works, if it doenst, they'll scrap the program and try something else. I believe that the government is not some evil entity out to suck our freedoms like a proverbial leech like a lot of you seem to think, sure, there not the greatest in the world, but then who is?

If it's used as a warning, I like it. (2)

afniv (10789) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472833)

I think it would be useful for such a system to warn a security guard reading /. that someone is walking around my car, perhaps ducking behind it to not be seen. This way the security guard pays attention to the security camera showing the perpetrator breaking into my car and starting to drive away. This way, since the guard is paying attention, he can call the police who can stop the car on the way out of the garage. The thief is arrested, my car is recovered, I'm happy.

This is better than walking up to my parking space seeing my car gone, and finding out the guard wasn't paying attention because he was reading /..

Now, I don't seriously expect someone to come up to me arresting me for stealing my own car (or a borrowed friend's car which wouldn't have my name on the registration?) when I simply walk up to the car and happen to bend down to examine a tire that might have low pressure or examining a dent in the car from those large SUVs.

After all, the security guards are supposed to be watching the cameras despite any intelligent security system. It's always been the judgement of the security guard what suspicious activities are. I don't think that is changing here. Only the fact that monitoring 10 security cameras becomes a little easier when suspicious activity is brought to the guard's attention.

"Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"

Re:oh Fun!!! But be careful... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472834)

This would be easy...
just keep a slim jim in your coat...park your
car in any large parking lot...leave the
keys under the seat.

Goto the mall or wherever...come out...walk t
your car. Pull out the slim the

Esp at malls where they have a van driving around
the parking lot for should arose
alot of suspicion.

The obvious drawback is you could damage you car
with the slim jim and have to have the locking
mechanism fixed.

Of seems to me these camera
systems would work much better inside a store then
in a parking lot. I mean...stores lose alot
of money due to shoplifting, they don't lose much
except reputation for having a safe parking lot
if your car gets stolen.

Much better to just walk around inside department
stores. Dart your head back and forth alot,
looking into aisles not at merchandise...make lots
of darting hand motions into your pockets etc

Sure it could be a fun way to kill a few hours but
seems rather pointless :)

Re:So much for freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472835)

Sorry, we're already there. I have been stopped and hassled repeatedly for no other reason than the fact that I like to take long walks and avoid crowds when working on problems. Then again, I do have a beard, and I like my army surplus field jacket too much to pay triple the price to replace it with an inferior un-military one. Gee, I guess the cops are right-- I am a dangerous antisocial nut and should probably be given plenty o' thorazine.

Re:Two problems with this (3)

GC (19160) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472836)

oh please...

we are talking about video surveillance here, not thought crimes.

From the UK perspective and London in particular we've been through the threat of terrorist attacks for years, and if anything has actually returned normality back to us it was the ring of steel and the video surveillance that came with it.

Post-IRA : we have found the surveillance useful. Anyone here remember the Pipe-Bomber who set off the bombs in Soho, Brixton and the East End? It was only because we managed to get the picture of the bomber (who left the bomb in a bag in Brixton market) in the National Newspapers that we were able to halt what was an attrocious attack on ethnic minorites.

Obviously I can't speak for other readers in the US, but the impression that I'm geting is that you guys are living in a Police State similar to that of the former Soviet Union - come on... tell me this isn't true?

The camera with AI attached to it is an aid to law-enforcement. You can't blame the camera and/or AI for the problems you're having with your law-enforcement.

Re:oh Fun!!! (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472837)

Unless you particularly want to become an inadvertant celebrity on national TV, you might want to be a little careful round CCTV cameras.

true, I was watching a show on the discovery channel that was talking about the CCTV stuff in Britain. It showed this guy who was depressed at one time and decided he was going to go to a bridge and kill himself by slicing his wrists. He didn't know at the time that a CC camera was watching him. Unfortunately, a "real life" cop show got hold of the footage of the police stopping him and implied that the guy was waiting there to try and knife someone. He was then shunned by family and co-workers because they thought he was a wannabe murderer.

Re:Well, this is the kind of thing you have to exp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1472838)

the media runs the country more than the government anyway

I thought most of the media was government sponsored.

... as a side note, we have far far less death due to accdental shootings, children getting hold of guns etc....

I would suspect that cases of this in the US are much lower than you expect. For instance, did you know that more children died last year as a result of air bags than accidental shootings? More children drowned?

... a civilized society has no need for killing tools ....

I beg to differ. "Si vis pacem, para bellum"

Re:Darn slashdotters (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472839)

Having a key in your hand doesn't make you a thief, having a crowbar is another story.

There's plenty of legitimate reasons to have crowbar about my person. Suppose I tend to lock my keys in my car, and like to bash in my windows to get them. :-)

By the way, you are not "arrested", you are stopped and questioned, there is nothing illegal about stopping someone to question them about a strange activity.

Maybe not, but if someone stops to question me about my actions, I say "fuck off pig", and go about my business. It's none of yours, or anyone else business what I do, until I break the law. If they have no cause, then they can just back the hell off.

Oh yeah, and for those of you thinking you can have fun, by sounding false alarms. Be ready to get arrested, it is simply like sounding a false alarm that their is a fire, or calling 911 and telling them you have a heart attack.

No, it is not. Triggering a false alarm on this system is just acting like you might commit a crime. There's nothing illegal about that, now is there? If they do try to arrest you for "looking like he might break the law," you could sue the holy shit out of them. False arrest. Illegal prosecution. Something like that.

The worst thing about a system like this is that it will most likely cause innocents to be harrased needlessly. This system is more likely to cause people to be tagged as, in the opinion of the programmers, being people who might commit a crime. Does that mean that these goth kids who walk around will be tagged? I know one hell of a lot of people who, while they are the nicest people in the world, look like they might kill you and drink your blood at any second. :-)


Re:CCTV - better than guns (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472840)

You only need be worried about them if you've broken the law. (Wrongful arrest is an unusal thing in the UK because the police do their job and are accountable for their decisions).

That's true, now - but what of the future?

Do not assume that just because you are in the law abiding majority now, that there will never be a law passed that outlaws some activity that you take for granted, such as your religion, or philosophical beliefs.

American freedom seems to be the freedom to do what YOU want, no matter what detrimental effect it has on society as a whole.

Freedom, true freedom, means being able to do absolutely anything you want - and choosing not to do those things that harm others.

As soon as you try to prevent people from acting in certain ways, you run the risk of taking things too far and restricting too much. Sure, of course pass laws, making it illegal to murder or rape people, and educate people so that they realise that such behaviour is unacceptable and why. Just don't try to prevent people from commiting murder or rape, because in the end, it is an impossible task, and all you can hope to do is infringe people's human rights.

I have the right to live free from the fear of being oppressed. I do not believe that I can do this in a society where my every move is monitored by CCTV cameras. I may not be oppressed now, but what about in 10 years time, or 20?

We must guard against anything being implemented now that could be used against the very people it is designed to protect in the future. The immediate benefits do not outweigh the longterm risks.

Just my two penn'orth


Re:NewScientist web site... (1)

spiralx (97066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472841)

I had that the first time, but I just hit reload and it came up fine.

Natural progression really (1)

ectoraige (123390) | more than 14 years ago | (#1472842)

We really should have seen this coming. Once the use of surveillance cameras became widespread, of course efforts were going to be made to improve their effectiveness.

I spent many years working in a petrol station, and one of my banes were shoplifters. After a while though, you learn to spot them, by their behaviour, hanging around shelves, looking around themselves. Usually, I could deter them with a look, and a suggestive glance at the security cameras. Sometimes though I would realize that they were merely confused, and were searching for a product, and I would then offer them assistance.

The important thing is that they came to my attention because of their behaviour patterns. I then made the decision on how to react. We still lost a lot though, if we were busy and I was too busy to watch. And there were always the professional thieves who would know how not to stand out.

What I'm trying to say here is that this is another example of tools frightening people. While there is potential to abuse these systems, we have to bear in mind that the systems are reporting to human supervisors any 'erratic' behaviour - the kind of thing that the supervisors are already looking out for. This system is simply aiding their job. If you have a problem with it, then it's with the camera's themselves, not the pattern-recognition software. Camera systems are already being used to track suspect individuals who have been picked out by security personnel - a prime example is in Oxford Street, London.

Any abuses will be committed by the human monitors. So our imperative is not to recoil from such systems, but to try to ensure that they are used responsibly, and genuinely with the safety of the public in mind.

"A goldfish was his muse, eternally amused"

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