Jun 16 2009

Machines watching with gimlet eyes

Category: humor,society,technologyharmonicminer @ 8:49 am

Security officials are exploring the use of computer processed cameras to spot suspicious behavior and refer it to humans for verification. They are Asking a Machine to Spot Threats Human Eyes Miss

Using a mock-up of an Airbus, the researchers tested camera systems that would identify threats inside passenger planes. Some of the cameras on board, Ferryman said, focused on a passenger’s face and upper torso, looking for telltale signs that someone may be up to no good _ heavy sweating, for instance.

Hmmm… I see lots of heavy sweating every time I give a final exam. I knew some of those guys were up to no good.  Of course, some of them may think I’m a terrorist.

As time goes on, I think we’re heading for the world predicted by David Brin in Earth.  Pretty much everybody will soon be carrying around video cameras on their phones, pdas and handheld video games, and pretty much every business, home, street light and power pole will have a video camera connected to a computer somewhere that is deciding whether to alert humans to review some footage (a term which itself will continue to exist for some time, but soon no one will remember where it came from).

Stop light cameras are just the beginning.  Everyone will be watching everyone, all the time.

I think there will be a whole new line of “stealth clothing,” which will be something that reflects light in ways difficult for computers to process.  Lots of folks will start wearing fedoras scrunched down to obscure their faces, and bizarrely glittery and deceptive clothing.  Of course, we see that at the Oscars every year.  Look for lines of facial makeup that obscure video pickup…  think glitter on steroids, producing images that the human eye can process, but are hard for computers to identify.  It’ll give Victoria’s Secret a whole new meaning.

And we haven’t even talked about satellite surveillance yet.   It won’t be long before every country with a little excess change will have its own satellites, watching each other and everyone else.  Look for Google Earth to start showing current military resolutions of imagery (classified, but rumored to be able to read license plates), as miltary resolutions increase to the point of reading the labels on your clothing.

From Music to Watch Girls By

“The boys watch the girls while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by,
Eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene.”

Your video processing software ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Privacy and anonymity are so….  20th century.