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No Place To Hide

Well, this is mighty confidence-building: [2]

Chinese police say they used facial recognition to identify, then arrest a man attending a crowded concert in Nanchang, China’s third largest city. South China Morning Post reports [3] that security cameras equipped with the software pinpointed the man out of the estimated 50,000 other people also in attendance at the concert.

Identified only by his last name, Ao, the 31-year-old was reportedly attending a show by Hong Kong superstar Jacky Cheung with his wife and friends last week. Law enforcement approached him soon after the concert started. Police said he was wanted in connection to an “economic crime.”

In China, face recognition is being used in train stations [4] to find human traffickers, in airports as passengers board domestic and international flights, and, soon, perhaps even on street corners [5] to deter jaywalking. While a purported boon to public safety, privacy experts have long rallied against face recognition in public places because simply being in the space means being matched against criminal databases and other watch lists.

Face matching is both instant and invisible, making its potential abuses particularly insidious. Journalists and protestors can be targeted [6] by the same technology as easily as any fugitive, and China has been accused of using face recognition to surveil its Muslim ethnic minority [7]. As it moves to empower its AI to watch most of its population of two billion people, China’s ultimate goal is to ensure no one’s just a face in the crowd.

Good thing we’ll never have to worry about that technology coming to America. Ahem.

Meanwhile: [8]

change_me

The data we share with companies online has become a hot-button issue, but new technologies could soon be scanning us as we go about our day.

That’s the claim made by a neuroscientist, who believes that devices in the real world will start gathering unprecedented levels of information about us.

Our bodies give off various signals that can be scanned and analysed by advanced computer systems, revealing everything from our current mood to our overall health.

In a similar way to wearable gadgets already available, future devices could be set up throughout public spaces to harvest this valuable bio-data.

Because they are part of our surrounding environment there will be no way for us to opt out or ditch the technology and new regulations will be needed, she warns.

The claims were made during a presentation given by Dolby Labs’ chief scientist Poppy Crum, who has spent the past few years studying people’s reactions as they watch films, at the Ted 2018 conference in Vancouver.

Forthcoming book from me: The Benedict Option 2020: This Time, Let’s Head For The Hills.

 

35 Comments (Open | Close)

35 Comments To "No Place To Hide"

#1 Comment By Adamant On April 13, 2018 @ 6:33 pm

BenOp 2024: If you’re reading this, its already too late.

#2 Comment By March Hare On April 13, 2018 @ 6:36 pm

Rod, the hills won’t save you. There’s technology to find you there, also. Subsurface would be a better bet.

#3 Comment By Pogonip On April 13, 2018 @ 7:41 pm

And it’s not too early to start thinking about how to keep this technology out of the hills we head into. We need to recruit geeks. Lots of geeks. Very soon now, the geekless will also be the defenseless.

#4 Comment By Doc Broom On April 13, 2018 @ 7:53 pm

Can’t wait to read it, but with all the game cameras in the woods using cellphone technology even the hills might not be safe.

#5 Comment By Kawi On April 13, 2018 @ 8:03 pm

I think the 3rd edition, to be published in 2021, will have to be entitled:
The Benedict Option: We Can Run, But We Can’t Hide.

#6 Comment By Dennis On April 13, 2018 @ 8:29 pm

“Forthcoming book from me: The Benedict Option 2020: This Time, Let’s Head For The Hills.”

Good joke! Unfortunately, the drones will keep tabs on us when we’re in the hills, so we’ll have to go pre-Benedict and head for the catacombs.

#7 Comment By Lord Karth On April 13, 2018 @ 8:36 pm

You can follow your book up with a third volume: Why EMP Is Your Friend. Or its companion piece: CultureJammer: How to Build a Portable Counter-Surveillance System. I’ve a hunch those books will be best-sellers—as samizdat publications.

Worse yet, I can see AI and facial-recognition technology being used here not just for surveillance, but for marketing. It’s enough to make one hope for a Meltdown today.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#8 Comment By Furor On April 13, 2018 @ 9:06 pm

You still have the mountains and forests. Plant forests people and leave those damn cities!!!

#9 Comment By Frances On April 13, 2018 @ 9:55 pm

I highly recommend The Circle by Dave Eggers, a novel that takes the issue of individual monitoring to its distopian conclusion through the psychological transformation of a young devotee of living online.

#10 Comment By Seven sleepers On April 13, 2018 @ 10:57 pm

“but new technologies could SOON be scanning us as we go about our day.”

Hahahahaha.

#11 Comment By Mark VA On April 13, 2018 @ 11:29 pm

Yes, I remember now – the “listening membranes” of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We”. Or Jeremy Bentham’s “Panopticon”. We’re finally catching up with the past;

But I can’t imagine that in the future humans will be doing all the watching, listening, apprehending, and holding – it will be subcontracted to AI (as in AI got Mr. Ao – nomen est omen strikes again);

[9]

BTW, to post this, I had to prove that “I’m not a robot”.

#12 Comment By charles cosimano On April 14, 2018 @ 12:34 am

Relax. The technology to block the cameras is really simple and readily available. Personally, I say let them watch. I hope I entertain them.

#13 Comment By anori On April 14, 2018 @ 2:25 am

I will not buy products from China, if I can help it, because of the human rights situation.
But. What if orthodox Christians had this type of technology in order to surveil the behavior of gay people who are having consensual adult sex in private? Just asking.

[NFR: The fact that you think orthodox Christians have any interest in doing this reveals a lot about you, and nothing about actual existing orthodox Christians. We are not Westboro Church people, you know. — RD]

#14 Comment By Richard Parker On April 14, 2018 @ 2:53 am

The future is a boot stomping on a human face…endlessly

#15 Comment By Michelle On April 14, 2018 @ 7:41 am

Big Brother is watching. He has been for a while but the technology he uses is becoming increasingly sophisticated and intrusive. The opportunities for abuse of this technology by both government and our corporate overlords are vast. Welcome to the surveillance society where everyone, under the guise of national security, is guilty until proven innocent.

#16 Comment By First_Deacon On April 14, 2018 @ 9:30 am

“Forthcoming book from me: The Benedict Option 2020: This Time, Let’s Head For The Hills.”

Exactly.

Sort of on a similar theme, I’m surprised you didn’t comment at all on Mark Zuckerberg appearing before Congress, and his admission about Facebook, AI, and policing ‘hate speech’ (as if this wasn’t already confirmed).

I’m now starting to think we are going to get a future dystopia where both 1984 and ‘A Brave New World’ are for the most part realized.

#17 Comment By florian albert On April 14, 2018 @ 9:58 am

The British Labour MP, Chris Mullin, made a similar point about the power of the Chinese security police in his diary for 7 December 1995. (Published in his book ‘A Walk on Part’ 2011)
A dissident was interviewed by an ABC correspondent, Jim Lawrie. The interview was never aired but the footage of the interview had been tracked by Chinese intelligence as it was sent by satellite to the USA. The dissident was tracked down and got five years in jail.

#18 Comment By Mary Winn On April 14, 2018 @ 11:29 am

Yeah let’s (head for the hills).

#19 Comment By Rob G On April 14, 2018 @ 11:51 am

The future: total personal “freedom” combined with total surveillance.

Liberals and progressives have long been screaming “keep the government out of our bedrooms!”
Well, it’s becoming more and more likely that that’s the only place the cameras won’t be.

Please let us boink whomever we want, whenever we want, and we’ll let you watch us everywhere else! Promise!

Idiots.

#20 Comment By collin On April 14, 2018 @ 12:16 pm

The basic reality of No Place To Hide is most of the basic US surveillance these days is not performed by the government any more. Just think of how many places your licence plate is on a security company servers during the last 24 months. So somebody could find out how many times I visited the grocery store the last 24 months. Or how much with internet banking could prove how you spent 95% of your money by your bank. Or many servers know your IP internet address across the globe. (I was a on a jury of a murder trial and the prosecution had evidence of the defendant in a he said/she said trial where they received a call 20 minutes from the murder scene.)

At the heart of the Mueller/Manafort investigation and trial will be proof of how much somebody activities can be monitored. So the prosecution will spend weeks defining the millions of dollar flowing from Russia to the Manafort US/Cyprus account and all the receipts a million dollar for area rugs. (I suspect Michael Cohen trial is going to similar.)

#21 Comment By Richard Parker On April 14, 2018 @ 1:25 pm

“Poppy Crum”

I saw her in…

#22 Comment By Jonathan On April 14, 2018 @ 5:34 pm

I for one am certainly terrified. It boggles my mind that the engineers designing this kind of thing never stop to think about the ramifications. Engineers are exhibit number one for the complete dearth of ethical or moral thinking in our modern world…

#23 Comment By Robert E. On April 14, 2018 @ 8:24 pm

Rob G writes:

“The future: total personal “freedom” combined with total surveillance.

Liberals and progressives have long been screaming “keep the government out of our bedrooms!”
Well, it’s becoming more and more likely that that’s the only place the cameras won’t be.

Please let us boink whomever we want, whenever we want, and we’ll let you watch us everywhere else! Promise!

Idiots.”

So the surveillance state is our fault? It seems to me that Westerners in general dropped the ball on that one. It doesn’t matter whether you have a conservative government or a liberal government, they want to surveil the crap out of you, expand their secrecy and security state, and pump up the military. Supporting and opposing those things isn’t an ideological affair.

#24 Comment By EngineerScotty On April 14, 2018 @ 8:31 pm

I’m pretty sure most of you carry a device in your pocket that comes with a camera that is always active, and a microphone that is always listening, and which is connected to the Internet.

#25 Comment By Kitchen timer On April 14, 2018 @ 8:47 pm

Ben Sasse recently went to China. Jonah Goldberg discussed it with him, on the Remnant podcast. Past time to be concerned.

#26 Comment By Frances On April 14, 2018 @ 9:22 pm

Jonathan: Read The Circle for the weltanschauung of such engineers as portrayed by the novelist.

#27 Comment By Philly guy On April 15, 2018 @ 12:04 am

First Deacon- the only appropriate response to Zuckerberg’s appearance before Congress is to comment on the technological illiteracy of our congress.Also, if the Benedict option needs more geeks maybe you should not restrict cellphone usage on 10 year olds.As far as engineers go,we make things work,we let others do the fake moralizing.

#28 Comment By Gromaticus On April 15, 2018 @ 8:56 am

…attending a crowded concert in Nanchang, China’s third largest city

Well there’s your problem right there. Most of the concerts I attend these days are either in a converted barn or outdoors with an old hay wagon as a stage.

“Meantime, forget this new-fall’n dignity
And fall into our rustic revelry.”
AYLI 5.4

Engineers are exhibit number one for the complete dearth of ethical or moral thinking in our modern world…

So true.

I’m sitting here reading “A Guide to Field Instrumentation in Geotechnics: Principles, Installation and Reading” and it’s basically Mein Kampf for people who got high SAT math scores.

#29 Comment By First_Deacon On April 15, 2018 @ 8:57 am

Philly Guy,

Since you are up on all of these things, I assume, please tell us how AI, taking as input such things as text, audio, video, makes decisions equivalent to ‘hate-speech/non-hate-speech’ or any other such classification without some sort of training data and test data, where these decisions have already been made from a reliable, e.g. human, source. And then tell us where are these pool of human judges/labellers that can make absolutely perfectly balanced decisions about that data.

And then please tell us about the low level employees who respond to complaints about problems such as labeling an innocuous image of a crucifix as violent. Where does one find a pool of entry level employees (and pay them low wages) capable of making completely neutral, Vulcan-like judgments, not affected by the political leanings of their company, their environment, and their personal decisions?

Don’t bother discussing deep neural networks, etc, that has nothing to do with the issue. There has to be some gold standard for the algorithm training and verification, plus adjustments as the system is used, so human input is very much a part of what makes it work.

Do tech companies try to correct for leftward human bias, given that they know their employees tilt heavily progressive? Will they in the future? I wouldn’t put any hopes on that.

#30 Comment By John On April 15, 2018 @ 10:50 am

Oh please. I can imagine anyone with a totalitarian mindset using this technology. Right, left, religious, secular has nothing to do with it. Anyone who wants to create nirvana or heaven on earth would use this technology as woukdxany opportunistic dictator who wants to hold onto power.

#31 Comment By grumpy realist On April 15, 2018 @ 1:22 pm

Well, every time we feed something into CAPTCHA we’re helping program one of those AIs, you realise.

So if this is something that Rod is really worried about he should take it up with the folks who run the TAC website, no? Have them find some other mechanism of screening when we put in our comments?

….I suspect nothing will be done…..

#32 Comment By JonF On April 15, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

Re: I’m pretty sure most of you carry a device in your pocket that comes with a camera that is always active, and a microphone that is always listening, and which is connected to the Internet.

What do you mean by “active”? To take a picture with my phone I have to put the phone in photo mode first.

#33 Comment By Pyrrho On April 15, 2018 @ 2:42 pm

I would be skeptical of any claim coming out of China. See this [10] in Foreign Policy.

#34 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 15, 2018 @ 6:10 pm

And George Orwell, poor thing, thought that there was something inherently communist about all this.

People concerned with fighting this sort of thing might want to read For The Win, a novel about the Industrial Workers of the World Wide Web, otherwise known as the Webblies.

#35 Comment By Olivier On April 16, 2018 @ 6:05 pm

The hills have eyes!