Facial Recognition Machinery, Part 1


Hey everybody office. Depot has supplies and services for businesses of any size. That's right no matter how small or large your Home Office happens to be or your office doesn't matter how big or small your business happens to be They can help you out. That's right you can get twenty four seven tech support You can buy whatever you need ink and paper cleaning Ming Supplies Office furniture. One of those chairs that swivels around office depot is ready to help your business with knowledgeable associates in over thirteen hundred stores or online line at Office Depot Dot Com. I Love Sports and I love my wife. I will destroy you. We haven't even started yet. If you're the type of fan who loved loves to debate Jordan Versus Lebron Lambeau verses soldier field or even the SANDLOT versus Major League. You will love listening to our podcast. The greatest rea- some of our favorite comedian for instance celebrities needs to come and constructively argue everything within the world of Sports with my comedian sports fanatic wife Megan Kelly and my hilarious writer and comedian husbands. Cj Toilet on. Oh so listen. Listen and follow the greatest. The I heart radio APP apple podcasts. Or wherever you listen to podcasts Welcome stuff to blow your mind. Production Iheartradio has network. Hey welcome to stuff to blow your mind and my name is Robert Lamb. And I'm Joe McCormick and I WANNA start off today by proposing a scenario for you to imagine imagine what if your body included a personal search bar. I know that sounds weird. That might be hard to picture but just try to new. Imagine your body. Your physical body has a digital interface that maybe anybody within one hundred feet of you can access what if your physical Michael Body included a searchable database of pretty much. Everything you ever did or posted on the Internet. So whether you're out at a bar you are with your friends or you're sitting on the subway on your way to work or you're sitting in your car in traffic or taking part in a protest march or working out of the gym or you're on a date. Whatever anybody who could see you would instantly have the ability to look up your personal information? They could find out your name. Your resume your contact info you workplace home address. Maybe find all publicly available photos of you. That are out there on instagram. Or whatever Maybe everything you've ever posted on twitter or on facebook or whatever other social media and more broadly basically just everything you've done on the Internet purchasing kissing history search history As well as your location history anywhere you physically taking your phone with. GPS enabled. I think most of us would probably recoil recoil in horror at the idea that we would ever lose the ability to be anonymous in a public place but perhaps the horrifying part of imagining being the scenario is that I think what I'm describing is not only fairly plausible in some preliminary ways. This is already the case at least in principle principal all the foundations and support structure of this horrible hypothetical world are laid and really all that's left to do is just kind have tightened the screws on it and one thing we know about this world is that there's no shortage of would-be screw tightened his out there. NOPE especially if you can make some money by tightening screws is which you very often can So yeah we should already know that. There is very little privacy in the modern technologies fear our phones or social media accounts. It's our advertiser. ID's which used to track US across the Internet. These sources are already used to create profiles in which the disparate types of our personal personal identifying information get correlated with each other and used to serve US ads or manipulate us on social media but the leap into physical space base where all of our information is easily linked now to our physical body wherever we are whether we like it or not is the frontier. That's currently being pushed and at a very rapid pace now. There are multiple ways to make this link. Of course you know so linking our digital profiles and all the the associated data with our physical bodies very simple one would be with the tracking devices that pretty much all of us carry with us at all times. The MAC addresses on. Our phones is on our mobile devices but one of the most powerful developing techniques is for the Texas fear to recognize you in physical space. The same way that your friends and your family do by your face now. One thing to keep in mind about this is that of course just because say your thermostat in your house can recognize your face use. That is not necessarily in itself a bad thing. In some cases that could be very helpful or even could be seen as a way to you know to safeguard safeguard The the the the temperature of your home That sort of thing that he can have some sort of a security feature and as we as we proceed through these episodes. So we're going to try and keep that in mind we're GONNA WE'RE GONNA try not to color. The technology as inherently or inherently prone prone to misuse but the story of technology is that it is both light and dark. Well Yeah and the I think there is a big difference between something being inherently vile versus prone to misuse. There are a lot of things that are that are created with perfectly good intentions in mind. You can think of lots of great eight reasons to do. Most of the worst technological stuff imaginable. You know we. We've talked before on the show and we we make no secret are distaste for a lot of things about social media. Yeah but of course you know you can see the good side of something like facebook. Yeah or very broadly you can think of something like banking yeah. Banking in. Many respects allows Dell's humans to do a a an amazing things things they wouldn't otherwise be able to do to buy larger You know to buy a property you know to buy Avia call to start a business start a business and so forth but then at the same time very terrible things have been done and are are still being done under the broad tent eh banking. Yeah and we can help. Better protect ourselves from those outcomes by better understanding banking so that we can regulate it properly which doesn't always get done but you know the the at least in theory that is the way to protect yourself and so today we're going to be taking that same point of view to series of episodes about facial recognition in science and technology. And this is a subject I've wanted to talk about for a while Because obviously this is an issue of increasing significance today but Actually just after we landed on this topic I came across a brand new story in the New York Times that serves as a really good anchor on why this issue is is incredibly relevant today and this article is called. The secretive company might end privacy as we know it by Kashmir Hill published in the New York Times January. Marie Eighteenth Twenty twenty. Yeah it It concerns a small technology. Company called clearview. AI which Just the title of that it. It sounds like it could be fine right. Sounds very transparent. Doesn't yeah clearview. Ai But of course this is a facial recognition based artificial intelligence company So what is clear view in their own words what do they say about themselves. to read from their marketing materials quote clearview is a new research search tool used by law enforcement agencies to identify perpetrators and victims of crimes. Clear views technology has helped law enforcement track down hundreds words of at-large criminals including pedophile terrorists and sex traffickers it is also used to help exonerate the innocent and identified the victims of crimes including luding child sex abuse and financial fraud now on the surface of things. That sounds absolutely airtight right it. It describes technology that is used by the appropriate Rian agencies to protect the innocent and to go after the guilty but then again that can be used to sell a lot of things things in the world of course so what they advertise is that this APP helps law enforcement identify perpetrators and protect victims of crime and of course in some cases that may very well be true obviously it would be pointless to deny that facial recognition technology the ability to take a picture of somebody's face and and then find out tons of stuff about who they are and how you can find them you know be pointless to deny that in many cases that would be useful and beneficial the law enforcement but it is also also of course just so easy to see how a tool like this could be terrible both in its successes and in its failures so first of all of course it could fail in catastrophic quays say with like false matches when police are looking for a perpetrator but of course you know that's something that can happen with human witnesses to right But then it could also so be used effectively if it correctly identifies people to amazingly insidious ends. So how does it work It's actually it. Sounds pretty simple. In terms of its user interface specifically what the tool does is it matches and input photo of a face with a huge database of existing photos was scraped from the Internet and then it will provide links to the places that those images from the Internet were originally found so very simple example. I take a photo of you and then I feed it into the tool and then it comes back with other photos of you and links to the places where those photos were found. Maybe your facebook page a youtube video. You're in and so forth and so when it works it will provide a direct link between your anonymous face from a a picture in the digital locations where all of your personal information may be logged online. Now we're not gonNA look too far under the hood of exactly how so The you know the underlying technology of the sort of thing works right now There are a number of ways that facial recognition algorithms can actually work but very common common ways using neural networks. Yes and and for this for like a nice succinct description of how this works I'd like to refer to who Max tag marks the most recent Book Life Three Point Zero which deals at length with a I and the the potential the the threats posed by AI. Hi in the future. It's a IT'S A. It's a wonderful book but in this this one section he's just summarizing how this kind of facial recognition works and he writes it's that neural networks have been quote trained to input numbers representing the probability that the image depicts various people. Here each artificial official Niran in on On an illustration there depicted as Circles computes a weighted sum of the number sent into it via connections or lines ends in this image from above applies a simple function in passes the results downward each subsequent layer of computing higher level features typical face face recognition network contain hundreds of thousands of Iran's the figure shows merely a handful for clarity so In the visual representation take mark includes here. You see all these circles and interconnected lines Representing how the you know. The neural network is functioning but then it begins it. Then we apply it is to the facial features it starts with with sort of general features and sort of blurry shapes and then two more specific features and then tying those features together and then eventually getting to to an output probability of actual facial matches. Yeah and as with many other neural networks that are trained on large data sets to match match values together or produce an output. Y given. Input X You know Given a training method there will often is so the way these things are trained. Is that you you know you feed them a lot of examples of the kind of output you want and slowly. They refine their own rules internally the rules that that happened each of these layers of neurons to manipulate numbers and values as they passed through the neural network in order to give the output that closely matches. Whatever you've trained trained to come up with That that means that like you can train. Potentially an effective neural network without yourself really understanding very well. Well exactly what's happening at each layer throughout right throughout the network. Now I think it is possible to like sorta get in there and try to dig into it and see what's going on if you've you've really got the time and expertise But but it can be relatively opaque as far as computer programs go. It doesn't necessarily work like a normal computer program that has lines of code any programmer. Who knows the language can read through and figure out what's going on easily but to come back to the Kashmir hill article and a clearview a I One thing that's important to point out is that this is by no means the first facial recognition APP or tool New Orleans it the first used by law enforcement It's particular value the the thing that it's doing that's somewhat new is in its database of images. His which again have been scraped from organic sources like facebook and Youtube previously law enforcement facial recognition. MASHING programs were often weaker and more limited to smaller databases of government photos. Say Mugshots or driver's licenses and of course there's the potential that you know smaller smaller Training or matching material will make any machine learning process weaker at at coming up with the results. You want the all this kind of ties in with is what I often think of is kind of like this tidal pool illusion of the Internet that feeling that a lot of us had. I think it's still have sometimes but also especially early on this feeling that we were engaging in something segmented from the general population you know but the thing about tide pools of course. Is that eventually the tide rolls in the you realize that you're actually connected to the wider Internet. So not just your friends or your family or your fan. But also you know law enforcement criminals souls Politics All despite turning around in the same grim ocean of numbing obscenity. I think that's a really excellent metaphor. Yeah there is some some some on. The Internet was very easily able to create a sense of isolated walled off gardens that we were living in which which were at the time totally public. You know Early days of various social networking sites fan forums. All that kind of thing you know whatever. It was the gave People Ola since that they were in a little private space. You know their little corner there little room but of course it's the Internet what's happening. There is public in the consumers of what's happening there may be completely invisible to you right. So in this case with these previous models of facial identification the data sets depending ending on. We're basically title tools like here's the title pool of of Mugshots. Here's the driver's license title. And that's what we're feeding on but basically clear view comes around on and this is a company that is saying. Well let's just use the whole ocean. What's stopping us from using the whole ocean so this is a company using the assets of various social media and in general visual media companies on the web to do the sorts of things that those companies have been loath to do or if at least been publicly opposed to doing because technically as pointed pointed out in hills New York Times Article You know there is. There is an argument. That what they're doing here. What what this company or any company? That's engaging in this kind of like broad sampling that they they may be violating the terms of service for these various websites. Sure Yeah automatically scraping imagery in data from facebook. Say I think there was at least the allegation. Yeah that could be a violation of facebook's terms of service but it didn't really seem to bother the clearview people right right and I think when hill reached out to facebook book representative. They said well we may look look into that. And so it's kind of an open question but You know a lot of this also comes down to something we discussed in our look at Jaren and Lanier's tin arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now because it concerns your data data that you have in all likelihood given away to companies like facebook twitter and others simply to be a part of the interconnectedness that they sold us now. A lot of the time when we're discussing such data we are discussing behavioral information right. Your likes dislikes your arousal patterns concerning posts and advertisements but in addition to this you also Oh sold the devil your face. Yeah I mean He. He's the devil in this case simply promising not to do anything unbecoming with your face but the hell is highly populated. Even if you have good reason to trust this particular devil to which you've already entrusted your face and perhaps the faces of your family members your loved one's deceased loved ones your children You know there are countless others that they will make no such promises steal your face right off your head. Yeah Yeah and and they may have little concern for the values that were in place during the initial purchase is something that I think about coming up again and again with Sharing data on the Internet. So you share your data with a company and maybe trust that company today to protect your data But what if they say that company hangs onto your data for a while and then they get new management that you don't trust as much but they've got it You you can't get it back. Or maybe they have a security breach in. Somebody just happens wants to steal your data from them right and it's like well you would have trusted. The company may be but now somebody else has got it and you can see how in the world like that Ah It could start to feel like maybe hopeless or pointless or few toll for people who say are in a position to make money off of not being being very careful about people's privacy You know it's like you know what's the point of everything eventually gets out there anyway. And this kind of point of view was was sort of articulated by some of the people quoted in hills article for example. There's a figure named David Skulls. Oh who was an early investor an investor in this company clearview I hi And scalzo quoted in the article saying I've come to the conclusion that because information constantly increases. There's never going to be privacy Z.. Laws have to determine what's legal but you can't ban technology shirt that might lead to a dystopia and future or something but you can't ban it so this is at once one of those statements that seems very pragmatic but also entirely self-serving because true the story of technology is that it's it's advanced cannot really be stopped you have to think ahead as best we can and prepare laws in our moral code dealing with emerging technologies. We've talked about this before. For instance in his as far as genetic technology is concerned but this particular quote also sounds a lot like. Hey It's going to happen either way so I might as well be the person to make some money off of it. I totally agree. I mean it. I agree that it is difficult to stop technological progress. That if you know if one group of people isn't working on it maybe a less ethical group of people people might be somewhere but that's not an excuse to be the person who creates the synthetic super virus that you know who liked genetically engineered captain trips flu or ever like Also you could use this logic about almost any bad thing. It's kind of like saying yeah. You know there's no way to totally eliminate pollution. Some some people are always gonNA find a way to pollute harm the environment. So you might as well just go hog wild dump it all like so. It's true that you can't stop everything harmful harmful to the environment with regulation. Be You can really slow it down. You can present major obstacles to the worst types of offenses and likewise. I think it would be very difficult. Holt to completely stop the advancing capabilities of AI including facial recognition But you can certainly slow it. You can certainly limit it's potentially harmful uses uses by banning those uses and punishing offenders. Now on the other hand you could think well yeah. You could do that but this would be so helpful to law enforcement in some cases you know so would the ability to search any house. He wanted without a warrant right right. I mean this is the same argument that has often been part of the reasoning for enhanced. Interrogation torture is that well it can help us get. The bad guys can help us in this situation and then also so in all these arguments there's also the The idea that well if you have nothing to hide if you are truly a a good and supportive member of society then what what if you have to. What are you have to worry about anyway? But but it Kinda comes down to the data issue. Well you trust the person who has your data now but you trust the person Harvey dated tomorrow. You trust the The government of today but governments change. Yeah I mean and nobody actually in practice believes this what you have to hide argument is just something you mean like if anybody ever says that just immediately demand them to give you their password like just let me read all your email I mean. What's the problem while it inspector Spector? Find everything in order but yeah so I mean obviously societies often decide to regulate police power in ways that that took that are truly inconvenient to law enforcement Because they decide that in some cases there are types of privacy and other civil liberties that matter matter more than prosecuting offenses at the maximum efficiency. Yeah all right one note. We're GONNA take a quick break. Everybody we have an ad here to read. This is pretty much a no brainer because We like pink. Floyd sure we like Roger Waters. I'm especially a fan of the early psychedelic stuff. Astronomy domine as saucerful of secrets. All that but Pink Pink Floyd. Yeah it's great. Yeah and of course. Roger waters is the creative genius of pink. Floyd any of the brand new tour for twenty twenty. This is not a drill. The tourists called right. This is not a drill but this is also not a drill. This is this is a real tour. Yes For the first time Roger Waters will perform in the round with all new visuals visuals from the team that created the live productions of the wall dark side of the moon an awesome them at tickets for Roger Waters go on sale Friday January thirty first but for stuff to blow your mind listeners. You can beat the rush and get access to our special pre sale. Starting Thursday January thirtieth go to Roger Waters. There's dot com and find a show near you. Click the ticket. Lincoln enter stuff in the presale box. That's Roger Waters Dot Com. Find the show near you. Click the ticket Lincoln Lincoln. Enter stuff to get your presale access. Can the weather predicted you. That's a good question. The kind lexus answers by looking at people ever notice that sometimes times you're cold and the next minute you're hot that's because the body's temperature is always fluctuating. And it's your brain that tells the body to constantly adjust for optimal temperature. So what if the inside of Alexis could adjust to you like that using sixteen infrared sensors to measure your body. Heat the vehicle reacts to You with Twenty Air vents ends heated and ventilated seats and heated steering wheel to maintain your desired preference automatically. It's aware of your ever changing temperature. Maybe even before you are and not just for the driver but all four passengers. It's a system called climate concierge available in select models and it was all inspired by you. So Oh discover what amazing ideas you'll inspire next at Lexus dot com slash curiosity okay. We're back so again. We're in the middle of the first episode of this exploration we're doing of The facial recognition science and technology. And we've been talking about this New York Times article that just came out last week by Kashmir hill about a facial recognition technology company called clearview. Ai Now broadly speaking the two big advantages ages of of clearview are that it First of all poles from an extensive database of images so. We're talking three billion photos. In a database verses says the four hundred and eleven million searchable through the FBI's database these stats according to clearview marketing materials reviewed by Kashmir Hero Hill for that New York Times article and then secondly it boasts a robust enough facial recognition engine built up from academic work by others on artificial intelligence image recognition in machine learning that it ended the does not require high quality or complete facial images to produce matches. So like the. You know the I guess the ideal example would be you could have somebody going into a bank and rubbing it with their face partially covered and then this would potentially be able to match that partial face to a full face on say facebook profile at least according to what the company and some of its satisfied customers in law enforcement have been alleging alleging. Yeah like one example of a successful match. That hill mentions is matching an individual to a face in a mirror in someone else's Jim Photo. What yeah and details of the presumed guilt or innocence of that particular individual aside? I think this is notable in the gyms are often considered to be photo taboo places it certainly as far as like other people working out in the gym. Go you know this is. I'm not what you know an expert on Jim Adequate but it is my understanding that you shouldn't even accidentally photographs in gym but obviously it does happen I should not have your phone out. Snap and picks at the gym right unless it's unless it's your private Jim and you're the only person there. Yeah or unless it catches bad guys. Because what are you have to hide that being said the The People at the company do admit that of course like you know it it still has flaws. There's still things is it can't do. Yeah like for instance. A lot of it is leaning on. I level photos the photos that you see say Lincoln Profile Photo as opposed to the sort the ceiling level security camera footage that that is often involved in these scenario right Yeah and it's so it's running into the same kind of problems that we talk about this this later in the episode that a human being sometimes have with less familiar faces. I mean this is a A known thing about human face perception and facial recognition mission within the brain is that We are much better at recognizing very familiar faces under unfavourable conditions. Like a partial face to face at at a weird angle facing bad lighting. We can do that a lot better if it's a familiar face than if it's a relatively unfamiliar face right. I mean even things like our face in a mirror versus are facing a photo. You know things like that can be distorting or or Or more more directly. I find it with someone else's face reflected in a mirror. Sure I'm I'm definitely not used to seeing that and that'll throw me off. Sometimes do you ever do the inversion test. This is another weird quirk of of the brain trying to see if you recognize photos. ddos of people's heads upside down. I know we've talked about that before on the podcast but I haven't really put it to the test in my life. There's a this this is just a total side note. There is a very funny thing known as the Thatcher effect. It has to do with the fact that so if you look at somebody's head head upside down but with their is right side up a lot of times. People look at that and they don't even notice anything's wrong with the photo. Wow so like the head is upside upside down but the eyebrows are like over the eyes because the eyes are still in the correct orientation but then if you flip that whole thing where the head is right side up the the is our upside down. It looks unbelievably grotesque burstow. You'll make noise when you see it. Look it up that you're effect but anyway back to the story about clearview. So the company claims its product finds matches for an input photo up to seventy five percent of the time of course Hill notes in the article. That we can't be sure how often false matches turn up She quotes Claire. Garvey who is a researcher at Georgia University's Center on Privacy and technology. Who who says quote we have no data to suggest this tool is accurate? The larger the database the larger the risk of MIS identification because of the d'appel ganger effect. They're talking about a massive database of random people they've found on the Internet the Dabo Ganger fact Being not that Not that vengeful German spirits are are actually invading the database about that There's there's just a Going to be the larger that the pool of people the more people are going to look very much like like others there's going to be More similarity between on increasing a pool of individuals right But at the same time anecdotal reports. It's from a number of law enforcement. Officers have claimed that this tool was effective at identifying real perpetrators from photos alone and there have been plenty of other examples in recent years of supposedly effective facial recognition technology provided by other companies that have been used to to allegedly capture perpetrators of crimes crimes done in public places in New York in the UK. Certainly you know in in countries with a very strong surveillance state like in China and we can come back to more about that added in later episodes. I think but as a personal anecdote in this reported Story Hill at one point has the company's founder used the APP on a picture of her and she claims that the tool quote returned numerous results dating back a decade including photos of myself that I had never seen before when I used my a hand to cover my nose and the bottom of my face. The APP still returned seven correct matches for me so I I think we can assume that failures including both false negatives and false positives are surely occurring at some rate. But it's also clear that this thing at least work some of the time. Yeah and that's enough to to help. They get picked up by law enforcement. Also it helps that there was a seems like there was a pretty sizable outreach. campaign from the company to to to market it the technology to law enforcement. Yes and we should say. I mean we're not going to hash out. Everything they get into in the article but the the company has arrived at law enforcement as their our primary customers before that they tried to market it in all kinds of ways including you know for like personal use private security things and for commercial news and even then like political opposition research and stuff but this But you can definitely see the advantage to law enforcement here because a detective for instance has has their disposal a number of a limited number of talents and tools that are useful in attempting to solve a case and adding this to the to. The toolkit is no brainer because you know larger issues of stability of the platform side. You know some of these legal issues. We potential legal issues. We're discussing earlier. This would be something you could use in Congress with other techniques. You could say all right. This face seems to match up with this individual. We also know that this individual was in the correct Vicinity senator at the time you know you could lean on your other detective tools than to To actually make the case. That's not to say. There's not potential for misuse here but I'm just saying you can. You can definitely see the appeal. And how if everything's working perfectly it would be an effective law enforcement tool yeah and however effective it. Actually it's clear that this and similar tools are increasingly popular with law enforcement in countries. All over the world. If you're one of those people who feels like pumping the brakes on this kind of technology. What could actually be done about it? Well he'll quote somebody named Al.. Dari a privacy. Professor at Stanford Law School who says bluntly quote absent send a very strong federal privacy law. We're all screwed And he's not alone. There are plenty of privacy. Experts today. Advocating the point of view that facial facial recognition technology or at least some specifics uses of. It aren't just something that maybe we should be a little concerned about something that needs to be banned outright For Example Hill also quote. Somebody named Woodrow Herzog. Who is a professor of Law Computer Science at Northeastern University and Herzog says has quote? We've relied on industry efforts to self police and not embrace such a risky technology. But now those dams are breaking because there's so much money money on the table. I don't see a future where we harness the benefits of face recognition technology without crippling abuse of the surveillance that comes with it the the only way to stop it is to ban it so whether we should do that. Or if so what form that ban should take whatever's the best way to address it I I think it is at least clear that this is a very pressing and Like time sensitive issue that is of urgent public concern right now. Oh Yeah because again as the author points out I don't think any of his WANNA live in a world. Where any stranger can you surreptitiously take a photo of face and then face searches and get all this data honest? I don't want for us to build that kind of world for our children. Who More than any office never had a chance to opt out of this this face trade? Yeah and that's the that's depressing to think about. You know because because you're not thinking about that when you when you share images of your child on on facebook or instagram or whatever it happens to A. B. Wanting to to celebrate that this person exists at all but you're you're laying the groundwork from like you know age zero Hula Onward right like this is their digital history. We were talking before we came into the studio about like if a person wanted to do something about this what could you do. You can't post photos of yourself and data. That has already been scraped but I wonder if maybe you could try to gum up the works by constantly just polluting alluding the Internet with false pictures of you that are not you so you like sort of Like deep vacant enough to where you Have obscured the visual record record yourself. Maybe yeah like I guess it would then depend on Though all those new images being taken in and causing enough confusion in the identification advocation of you. But I don't know or perhaps like altering your facial appearance with enough regularity that there is no concise sized version of you or or at least making to wear the the. I would have to work a lot harder. It would have to have like a broader definition of what you look like to the point that maybe skews with maybe enhances the d'appel ganger effect like I'm thinking about you know like you. Just you know each day. You injected different portion of your face with Collagen or something uh-huh or or maybe not college but maybe just say well I mean does this lead. This sounds ridiculous but does this lead to a future where everybody starts walking walking around with a broad array of interchanging masks. Yeah and or. And then you have enhanced laws against the wearing of masks any mask Oscar outlawed in a lot of places and a lot of events for for a reason. Yeah you're not supposed to drive a car wearing a mask that's this does remind me there is A. There's an excellent show on Hulu titled Future Man. It is a IT'S A. It's a comedy a satire with a lot of nostalgia for various hope you know sci-fi franchises but there is a scene in one of the episodes where an individual knows that a facial recognition system is looking for him so so he gets himself beat up first so that his face then all swelled and distorted and then it cannot make a match for him and he's able to sneak past the guards. I don't think that's a sustainable Patrick Robert and more we should not even we should not have to even entertain that possibility to to hold onto our sense of privacy privacy. Yeah now the fact that we're talking about this story in the New York Times but clear view is it's just a result of timing like this one. Specific Company is not the entirety of the end of privacy problem nor of the facial recognition technology landscape in particular. Another company. Could do the same thing other copycats. I'm sure there are already getting in there. it's just one high profile example of of the potential already being put to use that That's getting a lot of attention in the past couple of weeks. Yeah In part to you'll have to read the article for the details but it also like their key individuals that are notable that are tied into its funding. Yes there's an and of course. There's the ominous almanacs way it ends. which is the idea that it will soon probably be rolled out not just to law enforcement but to be publicly usable APP? You know which I guess is the sort of the scenario area we were describing it at getting into the episode just having a publicly available personal search bar tool yeah Walmart me down for being against that yes all right time to take a quick would break bull be right back with more. Hey everybody office. Depot has supplies and services for businesses of any size. So you know it doesn't and matter if you're just in need of some office supplies for your own home for your own Home Office office. Depot is the place to go likewise. If you were running a business of virtually any size this is the place you can go to get your materials as well as guidance. That's right Need Inc Dea need paper Deia need printers toners there's Do you need a break room supplies. Do you need office furniture. You gotta get one of those chairs. Turns around in a circle swivel chairs wheelchairs essential. Wait is that what you get your haircut in the whatever that is. They've got him. It Office Depot Office depot is ready to help your business with knowledgeable associates over thirteen hundred stores or online at Office Depot Dot Com. So no matter how big or small your business happens to be no matter how big or small your office happens to be office. Depot is the place to go for any variety. A of office supplies as well as some information to help you get there. Hey everybody office. Depot has supplies and services for businesses of any size. So it doesn't matter if you're in need of some office supplies for your own home for your own Home Office office. Depot is the place to go likewise. If you're you're running a business of virtually any size this is the place you can go to get your materials As well as guidance. That's right G Need Inc Dini paper APOR. DMZ printers toners Do you need a break room supplies. Do you need office furniture. You gotta get one of those chairs turns around in a circle. You have swivel chairs swivel chairs. Essential and wait. Is that what you get your haircut. In the whatever that is they've they've got him in office. Depot Office depot is ready to help your business with knowledgeable associates in over thirteen hundred in stores or online at Office Depot Dot Com. So no matter how big or small your business half to be no matter how big or small your office happens to be office depot. Is the place nice to go for a variety of office supplies as well as some information to help you get there all. We're back so of course I also want to make the case that facial recognition technology is not necessarily always a dangerous or scary or ominous. Thing thing I mean I think there are some uses of one could quite easily find a benevolent or even delightful as I was thinking about this. Was it many of its developing. It uses in non human animals not all because some of its uses in non human animals are also like Kinda horrifying but some of the ones in non. Human animals are pretty great. I I was reading an article in New York magazine from October twenty eighteen called. Here's a list of every animal humans currently monitor using facial recognition technology by Mac deguerin As a complete list is probably wildly out of date at this point because this was twenty eighteen but a few of the entries. Include things like There's a Norwegian fish-farming Company called Cermak Group. As that commissioned a system for facial recognition of salmon which would use distinctive patterns of spots. What's around the eyes mouth and Gills of individual salmon to build individual digital medical records associated with each fish and and this would be for the purpose of fighting epidemics of parasitic sea lice? Primary Okay so not merely just presenting it with With the dish when you order at a restaurant they will take the The Baked Salmon and please include. It's complete medical history. Yes sir. This seven was named Jeffrey. Here's his facebook profile on on Salmon facebook over that comes back Of course facial recognition technology is being deployed To keep individual track all kinds of livestock like cows and chickens of For maybe medical reasons or reasons having to do in in the case of cows reasons having to do with tracking like periods of peak milk output and stuff like that but they're also stories worries about conservation efforts to non invasive -Ly Monitor wild populations of vulnerable animals by way of facial recognition. which if that works? That sounds awesome. Awesome like I was looking at two thousand fifteen article in scientific American that described efforts to use facial recognition to track wild lions through a platform called the Lyon Identification Network of collaborators or link That's interesting yeah it reminds me of I. I WANNA say like a decade ago maybe a little little further back in time There was a a piece. I read about tracking whale sharks and well sharks all have distinctive patterns on there. You know the sort of the top. Their heads That area and it doesn't mean anything much to humanize but I think at the time they were utilizing NASA technology Collagen. That was aimed at making sense of the Stars Astronomical Computation systems to to make sense since sort of track A-AGAIN AFFI- at any rate These various whale sharks so this would be the sort of thing. Would I think an even better methods of doing that. Because because you're you're probably dealing with with creatures and all these cases says that they definitely are not all identical. There are differences but we just may not have the eye for it whereas technology can be can be used to say the Sharper Harper. I for chicken identity exactly and you know it has the advantage of not having to physically tag the animal in some way which can be difficult to do or it can be harmful to the animal writer. Dare dangerous to the the individual's doing attacking yeah And so apparently so you've got this one with lions the link project checked but there are similar. Things that have been attempted with tigers elephants. Even Wales. You mentioned whale sharks but with like actual Mammal Wales with a project that an article in the Atlantic an anti called facebook for Wales. I hope it's not as addictive for Wales as it is for humans. Yeah that was a joke. But you didn't laugh that's okay Eh. But similar technologies have been proposed and tested to help link people with lost pets including cats and dogs. That seems like a great use of this. Yeah well you know. Certainly I'm on enough social media boards for their pet owners in occasionally pentacle missing. And then there's this whole back and forth whereas like like Oh my my. My orange cat is missing. That looks like this and then somebody would be like. Does he look like this and I think I saw him in the back yard and someone else is like. Oh I think I saw him over here across town and nobody can can be for sure right. It's hard to get close to a stray cat in some cases or escape cat or a feral cat that has been misidentified. There's a lost cat but if you had the ability to get some sort of APP infrastructure where your your cats missing fine you upload them to this database and then when someone home and finds a cat they just take a picture of it and it tells you if that cat is missing like that would be that would be great that would cut out a lot of the the anguish and the the work that goes with Having a runaway pet I agree. That sounds great and maybe I'm suffering from a lack of imagination but I'm I'm thinking in cases like that that's a case where I think. The the risks risks to the cats privacy would be far outweighed by the benefits of of people finding their lost animals. Right because we know how cats are they. Don't give a damn about privacy. Now they yeah they have have a whole different set of said values now another sort of cork of Of timing here as we were putting this episode together in fact because we sort of finishing our notes for this episode this morning actually read a new blog. Post titled Depth of field fails by JANELLE SHANE GENE AT AI. Weirdness DOT COM. Oh we've talked about her blog on the show before because it came up in the pair of episodes did called Florida Sex Macarena which was about. Why why it's so funny when machines fail yes this is an and I imagine a lot of you have encountered You know the the various scenario. She's run with like a is coming up with names names for Halloween costumes or names for I think at one point they reason to come up with not only names that actual recipes for cocktails yes Recipes for foods also names for dishes. We talked about Dean D. Character. Biographies generate is in spells. Names for spells remember remember member Song of the darn saving fire. Yeah there's even one about cat names but in this particular post Shane. The research scientist does she test out the facial recognition. Ai That is employed by skype for its blur my background for all calls feature. Now the curious thing about about this is I've been using. We've been using skype here on the show for years for interviews and I guess I just. I don't dig deeply enough or read emails because I didn't realize is this was a feature at all until today. I think we always let somebody smarter than us. Figure out Scott. We'll just do the talking but but it it totally makes sense as a feature feature because perhaps you do have an ideal environment set up for a call with a business friendly background behind you but maybe you don't. Maybe you have a fridge with a a bunch of notes stuck to it with magnets and maybe some of those are like bills or you know or they have some data on there that you you wouldn't even want there to be a chance. Somebody he might be able to decipher it or a bookshelf full of cult tomes that you want people to know you've been researching that that's a good one or perhaps you're at work. And there's a marker board board full of data back. There might be something you don't want out or perhaps you have some distracting art up there on the wall and you don't want to compromise the interior of your own home so that you can do a skype call. You don't WanNa have to like take things off the wall in order to do this or you're in one of those weird Roman mass toilets breath whenever case may be the AI then can auto blur all of that out for you but to do so. It has to be able to tell the difference between between the face of the color and mere objects in the background. And it's in this case. The definition of face is pretty broad. As Shane. Discovers it will will allow ancient Egyptian illustrations to to come through on blurred In the face to face like okay. This call's being made by this this individual from Egypt Isis but also increasingly abstract depictions of human face so showed various works of art and some of them were really abstract and it was like all right. That's a face sure that'll work like monk. The scream yeah exactly also also stuffed giraffes it had a problem with the like the horns of the draft but but not so much the face of these stuffed giraffe it gets a little confused infused with life sized plastic skeletons however and also cats can throw it off as well but so do check out that blog post. It's it's amusing and also inciteful but all of this is certainly I think an example of facial recognition. Ai Doing something. That's not only helpful but could actually help you with your privacy. Yeah now one thing I think that would be different. There is that that's facial recognition in the sense of recognizing a face as opposed to a background versus recognizing housing whose face a picture of right but then again you could easily imagine like that being an upgrade or or being a situation where if you had a row more robust facial recognition initiative in. That was then used on some sort of skype like system. You might actually go ahead and have a feature where the callers face was logged and therefore it would blur out any face that was not the authorized users face so that way your You know there are other employees walking by in the background getting coffee. They're not gonNA show up on your recall if your significant other walks by in the background. They're not going to show up on the call etc though even with this. I mean when I'm in these kind of scenarios in my head. I'm always is wondering if there were freaky applications that I'm just not being imaginative enough to get to yet. We'll let me put on my Black Mirror. Neural Lace Cap. For a the second I think How about a simple case? Where law enforcement wants to access an unburdened background now? I'm not sure to what extent that's even possible. Awesome with this technology but what if say You know a government agency made a claim for a need override the auto blurring features utilized by others. So they would just have blanket the power to do this so you think you're blurring your background but actually yeah. Nobody can see it. Not If you're on the phone with you know with with someone who was actually a government employer who happens to have the magic key in this scenario. Oh I guess it's kind of like how you think you can have your phone turned off or you think you can have. GPS turned off but in in fact it is still location. Yeah that sort of thing and again. I don't have a detailed enough knowledge of this particular software. Not saying not not not applying directly the skype scenario here but just sort of thinking in general now in this particular case. I'm also assuming that the broad definition of a face is in place at least in part art to avoid situations where human beings face is blurred because the AI. Can't handle safe facial disfiguration. Because I think we can understand why we wouldn't want an hey. I like this to lean heavily on norms to promote ideals without who and who doesn't have a face sure though this the In considering considering this with face recognition we get into some some interesting and you know at times disturbing territory. Matthew Gault had an article in vice last February titled Facial Recognition Software Regularly Miss Genders transpeople. Detailing how these systems were simply not built with Trans or non binary people in mind and can quote continue to reinforce existing biases. Oh Yeah I mean as with a lot of things I think. Sometimes there is an illusion that machines Sheen's somehow will be free from applying biases humans that humans apply to each other. But I think we've got ample evidence now that that is not the case that human biases get quite easily mapped onto artificial intelligence Through assumptions used in the in the creation of these algorithms or through the data data sets. They're trained on right and then and his golden explorers and the article like part of it too is just who's building these programs still being built by programmers and engineers people that are a that may just not have have ever really given serious study to some of the gender issues that are inherent to the problem He also mentions how pass databases have for instance MIS identified black people in criminal databases and even in some cases. They failed to see black people at all yet like say if they they are trained primarily on data sets with lighter skinned faces right. Yeah in fact. Just last December December of Twenty nineteen the National Institute of Standards and Technology Analogy In the US tested one hundred eighty nine facial recognition algorithms from ninety nine developers Include some big name developers and found sounded that they were far less accurate at identifying African American and Asian faces compared to Caucasian faces. An African American females were even more likely to be misidentified aside This was reported in in various places But the article. I was reading about it BBC News Text. The article facial recognition fails on race government. Study says I've read about several cases like this I mean I think it's just so important for people especially working in the technology space to remember you. Don't fall for the myth that it's unbiased just because it's a machine and not person people's biases end up in the machine right the rules come from us Okay well I think we're going to have to call the first episode right there. But I wouldn't we come back in the in the next in the series of episodes we're going to be definitely talking about facial recognition and in the organic brain. And we'll be moving on more to the history of technological facial recognition. We'll get to talk about Griebel's we love Griebel's agreements. We're new to me but there's a whole world you podcast on Greenville's you might think they were new to you. They weren't Nudie we've talked about Gregg Griebel's have the most delectable spikes really okay. If you're curious you'll have to come back next time to find out. Come back for the Griebel's in the meantime if you want to check out other episodes of stuff to blow your mind you can find us anywhere. You find podcasts. If you wanted to handiwork a check us out stuff to blow your mind dot com and that'll shoot you over to the IHEART. listing for our program program. But wherever you get the show just make sure that you subscribe. Make sure that you rate in review these are great ways to help us out and just tell a friend about the show that also helps and and don't forget our other podcast. Invention invention is a journey through human techno history. Oh Yeah I feel like we've been doing a lot. Most of our technology stuff on invention. Yes yeah so so. I'm glad to be getting back into the techno space a little bit on stuff. Blow your mind today. Yeah absolutely even if it is for kind of Dystopia Sifi topic like this uh-huh anyway Huge thanks as always to our excellent audio producer. Seth Nicklaus Johnson if you would like to get in touch with us with feedback on this episode or any other to suggested topic like for the future or just to say hello. You can email us at contact at stuff to blow your mind dot com stuff to blow. Your mind is production. I heart radio is how stuff works for more podcasts. From IHEART radio is iheartradio APP Apple. PODCASTS asked wherever you listen to your favorite shows Hey everybody office. Depot has supplies and services for businesses of any size. That's right no matter how small or large your Home Office office happens to be or your office doesn't matter how big or small your business happens to be They can help you out. That's right you can get twenty four seven tech support You can buy whatever you need in Lincoln paper cleaning supplies office furniture. One of those chairs swivels around office depot is ready to help your business with knowledgeable associates in over thirteen hundred hundred stores or online at Office Depot Dot Com. The only way is through a new podcast. In partnership with iheartradio underarm players coaches. His and athletes will share intimate and personal stories of performing at the highest level. Here is Canadian tat. Lee Georgia Ellen. Were the reason I want is because on the day I was confident and I need to continue that mentality to understand. I can be an Olympic athlete. I can compete with the best in the world and just perform listen to the only way is through available now on the iheartradio APP or wherever you get your podcast.

Coming up next