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Surveilling AI’s Big Moment

by Michael Dean Thompson

AI is having its moment. And though 
 much of what has been slapped with the AI label is generally a far cry from the large language models you may have experienced at Bing and Google, it can still be terrifying. These new generations of tools are enabling a surveillance state far beyond an Orwellian fever dream. And, it is not just the government watching you. Rather, the voyeurs are also corporations like Moderna and the NFL.

Maybe the most terrifying is something called correlation analysis. It turns out, your friends have a lot to say about you, even without opening their mouths. Using biometrics like facial recognition to identify you and your friends (who “co-appear” with you in images and videos), they analyze the amount of time you spend together and how often you meet. The system can then cross-reference other data and create a surprisingly accurate picture of you. The same type of technology has been put to use in China to track dissidents and protestors. Now, a company called Vintra has brought the concept to the U.S. and counts the Lee County Sheriff’s office among its clients. The Los Angeles Times queried several police departments who have worked with Vintra, though none were willing to comment on whether they had used the co-appearance features. Nevertheless, the Times quoted several experts who believe the technology will likely see significant growth in the near future.

A Taiwan-based company, Vivotek, has launched a new tool to perform real-time facial recognition and vehicle tracking in up to 20,000 connected cameras. The AI-based VAST Security Station also has access to other intelligent image analysis tools to supplement its real-time monitoring.

South Korean company Hanwa Techwin is rebranding its own offering of AI-enhanced real-time data analytics in its video surveillance system, Hanwa Vision, for the American corporate and law enforcement consumer. out of California has integrated AI into forensics tools. Their goal is to provide search tools that work in near real-time for incident investigations. The tool even manages to go further than facial recognition, capturing non-biometric identifiers such as clothing. The tool is being marketed to enterprises that “can quickly conduct investigations and meet regulatory requirements.”

Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts sees the danger of these systems that can have you “tracked, marked and categorized by public and private-sector entities that you have no knowledge of.” For that reason, he plans to reintroduce a bill that would prevent law enforcement throughout the country from using facial recognition systems. A bill like that, however, does not go far enough. If an outright ban on facial recognition, including at the corporate level, is untenable, then limits should be set on how long any entity can hold biometric and related metadata, as well as how and to whom that data can be sold.  

Source: New tools cash track who you have been with, as AI security evolves



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