"Computers have been getting better and better at seeing movement on video. How is it that they read lips, follow a dancing girl or copy an actor making faces?"
– from Andrew Blake. Introduction to Active Contours and Visual Dynamics. Visual Dynamics Group, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
Facial recognition may soon play a role in your child's lunch. The Financial Times reports that nine schools in the UK's North Ayrshire will start taking payments for canteen (aka cafeteria) lunches by scanning students' faces. The technology should help minimize touch during the pandemic, but is mainly meant to speed up transaction times. That could be important when you may have roughly 25 minutes to serve an entire school of hungry kids. Both the schools and system installer CRB Cunningham argued the systems would address privacy and security concerns.
AI surveillance is increasing at a rapid pace around the world. The East Asia/Pacific, Americas, and the Middle East/North Africa regions are robust adopters of these tools. Even liberal democracies in Europe have installed automated border controls, predictive policing, "safe cities", and facial recognition systems. China is the biggest supplier of these technologies which can be found in 63 countries. Huawei alone is responsible for providing AI surveillance technology to at least fifty countries and its leadership has strong ties with the Chinese government.
More than 240 metro stations across Moscow now allow passengers to pay for a ride by looking at a camera. The Moscow metro has launched what authorities say is the first mass-scale deployment of a facial recognition payment system. According to The Guardian, passengers can access the payment option called FacePay by linking their photo, bank card and metro card to the system via the Mosmetro app. "Now all passengers will be able to pay for travel without taking out their phone, Troika or bank card," Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin tweeted. In the official Moscow website's announcement, the country's Department of Transport said all Face Pay information will be encrypted.
The Moscow metro has rolled out what authorities have lauded as the world's first mass-scale facial recognition payment system, amid privacy concerns over the new technology. The cashless, cardless and phoneless system, named Face Pay, launched at more than 240 stations across the Russian capital on Friday. "Now all the passengers will be able to pay for travel without taking out their phone, metro or bank card," the Moscow mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, tweeted on Thursday evening. To activate Face Pay, Sobyanin said, passengers will need to connect their photo, bank card and metro card to the service through the metro's mobile app. "It will be enough just to look at the camera to pass through the turnstiles," Sobyanin said.
The New South Wales government has announced it will put a cap on the number of unvaccinated people flying into the state from overseas. From November 1, only 210 unvaccinated people coming from overseas will be allowed to arrive in the state per week. For those who are unvaccinated, they will be required to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine. The New South Wales government was trialling home quarantine for people arriving in Australia based around a mobile app using geolocation and face recognition, but NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism, and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said implementing such a measure at scale would be "immensely challenging". "There is absolutely no reason why we should take health staff or police staff or other public servants away from their frontline duties for them to monitor people in quarantine," Ayres said.
Microsoft has been expanding the number of different ways it can update Windows components for a while now. Today, October 14, officials announced they're beginning to test yet another vehicle for this, which they've christened "Update Stack Packages." Microsoft introduced Update Stack Packages as part of the announcement of a new Windows 11 build for the Dev Channel. That build, Windows 11 build 22478, includes a number of fixes plus new emoji built using the Fluent design language. Today's test build also allows users to log into their PCs using facial recognition via Windows Hello on an external monitor if that monitor has a camera attached that supports it.
In Australia, the country's information commissioner has found that 7-Eleven breached customers' privacy by collecting their sensitive biometric information without adequate notice or consent. From June 2020 to August 2021, 7-Eleven conducted surveys that required customers to fill out information on tablets with built-in cameras. These tablets, which were installed in 700 stores, captured customers' facial images at two points during the survey-taking process -- when the individual first engaged with the tablet, and after they completed the survey. During the investigation [PDF], the OAIC found 7-Eleven stored the facial images on tablets for around 20 seconds before uploading them to a secure server hosted in Australia within the Microsoft Azure infrastructure. The facial images were then retained on the server, as an algorithmic representation, for seven days to allow 7-Eleven to identify and correct any issues, and reprocess survey responses, the convenience store giant claimed.
Welcome to I Was There When, a new oral history project from the In Machines We Trust podcast. It features stories of how breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and computing happened, as told by the people who witnessed them. In this first episode, we meet Joseph Atick-- who helped create the first commercially viable face recognition system. This episode was produced by Jennifer Strong, Anthony Green and Emma Cillekens with help from Lindsay Muscato. It's mixed by Garret Lang, with sound design and music by Jacob Gorski.
Top science advisers to President Joe Biden are calling for a new "bill of rights" to guard against powerful new artificial intelligence technology. The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy on Friday launched a fact-finding mission to look at facial recognition and other biometric tools used to identify people or assess their emotional or mental states and character. Biden's chief science adviser, Eric Lander, and the deputy director for science and society, Alondra Nelson, also published an opinion piece in Wired magazine detailing the need to develop new safeguards against faulty and harmful uses of AI that can unfairly discriminate against people or violate their privacy. "Enumerating the rights is just a first step," they wrote. "What might we do to protect them? Possibilities include the federal government refusing to buy software or technology products that fail to respect these rights, requiring federal contractors to use technologies that adhere to this'bill of rights,' or adopting new laws and regulations to fill gaps."
Abiodun Ogunyemi has been an Uber Eats delivery driver since February 2020. But since March he has been unable to work due to what a union supporting drivers claims is a racially-biased algorithm. Ogunyemi, who is Black, had submitted a photograph of himself to confirm his identity on the app, but when the software failed to recognize him, he was blocked from accessing his account for "improper use of the Uber application." Ogunyemi is one of dozens of Uber drivers who have been prevented from working due to what they say is "racist" facial verification technology. Uber uses Microsoft Face API software on its app to verify drivers' identification, asking drivers to submit new photos on a regular basis.