Defeating Facial Recognition: Chasing a Ghost

August 12, 2020

The article hedges. Check the title: “This Tool could Protect Your Photos from Facial Recognition.” Notice the “could”. The main idea is that people do not want their photos analyzed and indexed with the name, location, state of mind, and other index terms. I am not so sure, but the write up explains with that “could” coloring the information:

The software is not intended to be just a one-off tool for privacy-loving individuals. If deployed across millions of images, it would be a broadside against facial recognition systems, poisoning the accuracy of the data sets they gather from the Web. <

So facial recognition = bad. Screwing up facial recognition = good.

There’s more:

“Our goal is to make Clearview go away,” said Dr Ben Zhao, a professor of computer science at the University of Chicago.

Okay, a company is a target.

How’s this work:

Fawkes converts an image — or “cloaks” it, in the researchers’ parlance — by subtly altering some of the features that facial recognition systems depend on when they construct a person’s face print.

Several observations:

  • In the event of a problem like the explosion in Lebanon, maybe facial recognition can identify some of those killed.
  • Law enforcement may find narrowing a pool of suspects to a smaller group may enhance an investigative process.
  • Unidentified individuals who are successfully identified “could” add precision to Covid contact tracking.
  • Applying the technology to differentiate “false” positives from “true”positives in some medical imaging activities may be helpful in some medical diagnoses.

My concern is that technical write ups are often little more than social polemics. Examining the upside and downside of an innovation is important. Converting  a technical process into a quest to “kill” a company, a concept, or an application of technical processes is not helpful in DarkCyber’s view.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2020

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