Make: a facial-recognition confounding "Opt Out Cap"

Mac Pierce created a simple wearable to challenge facial recognition: do a little munging to an image of a face, print it on heat transfer paper, iron it onto see-through mosquito netting, slice, and affix to a billed cap -- deploy it in the presence of facial recognition cameras and you'll be someone else. It's the kind of "adversarial example" countermeasure that fools computers pretty reliably but wouldn't work on a human. (via JWZ) Read the rest

The CIA is offering…privacy advice? For trick-or-treaters? WTF?

I don't think I ever related to the White Guy Blinking Meme as much as I did after this tweet crossed my timeline.

I did in fact click through to their "CIA Kids Guide: 5 Ways To Stay Covert This Halloween" and I…I don't even know where to begin.

I kind of love this as a piece of propaganda because the first tip and the last three are at least useful (if completely fucking obvious for anyone who's ever watched a spy movie). But then there's #2, "Think Simple," which … I know this is meant for the CIA's kids' outreach section, but come on. You're not even pretending that you're not indoctrinating kids to make it easier to surveil them!

I guess it'd be too much to hope for that the CIA might offer helpful advice on VPNs and anti-surveillance attire—but even then, I probably wouldn't trust it.

Image via Katerha/Flickr Read the rest

Podcast of Affordances: a new science fiction story that climbs the terrible technology adoption curve

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my short story "Affordances," which was commissioned for Slate/ASU's Future Tense Fiction. it's a tale exploring my theory of "the shitty technology adoption curve," in which terrible technological ideas are first imposed on poor and powerless people, and then refined and normalized until they are spread over all the rest of us. Read the rest

"Affordances": a new science fiction story that climbs the terrible technology adoption curve

"Affordances" is my new science fiction story for Slate/ASU's Future Tense project; it's a tale exploring my theory of "the shitty technology adoption curve," in which terrible technological ideas are first imposed on poor and powerless people, and then refined and normalized until they are spread over all the rest of us. Read the rest

We killed facial recognition at music festivals: next, we kill it everywhere

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Today Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and I published an op-ed in Buzzfeed about how grassroots activism combined with backlash from artists and fans to kill the terrible idea of using facial recognition technology at US music festivals. We wanted to tell this story because everyone needs to know that the corporate-government surveillance dystopia of our nightmares is NOT inevitable, but it's coming fast unless we organize to stop it." Read the rest

Why we should ban facial recognition technology everywhere

In the wake of Berkeley joining the growing list of cities that ban the use of facial recognition by governments, RIT philosophy prof Evan Selinger and Northeastern law/comp sci prof Woodrow Hartzog make the case in the New York Times for a nationwide ban on facial recognition technology. Read the rest

Design fiction, politicized: the wearable face projector

In 2017, a group of Dutch design students created some fictional anonymity "products" that they displayed under the name "Group Anonymous" at Milan Design Week. Read the rest

Berkeley city council unanimously votes to ban facial recognition technology

Berkeley has joined the swelling ranks of cities (pioneered by nearby Oakland) that have passed ordinances banning the government's use of facial recognition technology, after a unanimous city council vote. Read the rest

Ant-facial recognition tech at the Hong Kong protests was an art project

There have been some tweets going around about a "wearable face projector" being employed at the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

It's essentially the same as the scramble suits from Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly—instead of disguising yourself as someone else, it disguises you as everyone else, projecting a constantly shifting visage that drives the facial recognition AI crazy. It certainly makes sense that someone would try to use something like this in Hong Kong, where the mere act of protecting one's identity in public is now punishable by a USD3,200 fine.

Except… it's not from the Hong Kong protests. It's actually an art project by Jing-Cai Liu, an industrial design student at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Liu had come up with the concept of a wearable face projector as an undergrad at the University of the Arts in Utrecht. "In the future, the advertisement could call your name when you walk along the streets," she writes on her website:

Mega databanks and high-resolution cameras in the streets stock hundreds of exabytes a year. But who has access to this data? It is possible that it could have commercial use, hence not only retail companies but also the advertisement industry could be very interested in this data in the coming future. They would hope to gain these personal data and information as much as they can.

[…]

The companies would know your personal interests and may set different retail strategies for you.

Read the rest

Hong Kong bans makeup and masks so facial recognition cameras can identify protesters

Hong Kong joins the ranks of other autocratic nations that have banned face coverings in the name of national security: Sri Lanka, France, the Netherlands, Canada, etc (such bans have also been proposed in the UK, Australia, the USA). Read the rest

Surveillance camera hallucinates face in the snow, won't shut up about it

A beauty from last February: Kyle McDonald tweeted redacted social media screenshots from a surveillance camera owner that emitted a steady stream of alerts because it saw a face in the garden -- a face that was just a random assortment of grime and snow that only vaguely resembled a face, but still triggered the facial recognition algorithm. In the end, the only way to shut up the camera was to stomp around in the snow until the "face" was erased. Read the rest

Stealing Ur Feelings: interactive documentary on the snakeoil "science" of facial emotion detection

Filmmaker Brett Gaylor (previously) writes, "Stealing Ur Feelings is an augmented reality experience that reveals how apps like Snapchat can utilize facial emotion recognition technology to secretly collect data about your emotions to make decisions about your life and promote inequalities." Read the rest

Amazon wants to draft model facial recognition legislation

Between its line of Ring-brand surveillance doorbells and its "Rekognition" facial recognition product (both of which are used in law-enforcement and immigration-enforcement contexts), Amazon is at the center of the controversy over facial recognition technology. Read the rest

Which music festivals use facial recognition tech?

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "We just launched a new scorecard showing where major music festivals stand when it comes to using invasive and racially biased facial recognition technology on fans. Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Electric Forest and others have committed to not using biometric surveillance, while Coachella, SXSW, and Riot Fest have refused to make the same promise. Headlining artists like Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Amanda Palmer are backing the campaign. Find out where your favorite event stands, and contact the ones who haven't responded." Read the rest

Ring: "We don't use facial recognition"; also Ring: "We have a head of facial recognition research"

One of the most obvious facts I've learned in covering the unfolding scandal of the secret deals between Amazon's Ring surveillance doorbell group and hundreds of US police departments is that Amazon loooooves to play word-games. Read the rest

Uganda installs Huawei's AI-powered facial recognition surveillance system 'nationwide'

“The cameras are already transforming modern day policing in Uganda, with facial recognition and artificial intelligence as part of policing and security.” — Ugandan Police.

Facial recognition: Amazon adds 'fear' to range of emotions Rekognition can detect

Amazon is a major federal contractor. AWS powers ICE raids and detention camps.

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