Of course a little known facial recognition tool was used on Black Lives Matter protestors. This past June, as protestors were tear-gassed in Washington D.C.'s Lafayette Square so that Donald Trump could have a bible-thumping photo op, officials claim a man assaulted a police officer. The man, Michael Joseph Peterson Jr., wasn't arrested at the scene. Instead, police pulled images off Twitter and ran them through a previously secretive facial recognition system to find a match. So reports the Washington Post, which notes that many experts believe this is the first time a defendant has been told the National Capital Region Facial Recognition Investigative Leads System (NCRFRILS), as it is called, was used to track them down.
In the last few years, companies have started using such race-detection software to understand how certain customers use their products, who looks at their ads, or what people of different racial groups like. Others use the tool to seek different racial features in stock photography collections, typically for ads, or in security, to help narrow down the search for someone in a database. In China, where face tracking is widespread, surveillance cameras have been equipped with race-scanning software to track ethnic minorities. The field is still developing, and it is an open question how companies, governments and individuals will take advantage of such technology in the future. Use of the software is fraught, as researchers and companies have begun to recognize its potential to drive discrimination, posing challenges to widespread adoption.
SAN FRANCISCO – When Liz O'Sullivan was hired at the New York City-based artificial intelligence company Clarifai in 2017, she felt lucky to find work at the intersection of two of her main interests: technology and ethics. Two years later, she found herself facing a moral dilemma. Clarifai was developing aerial photography and object detection tools as one of several companies working on Project Maven, a Pentagon drone surveillance program. After several conversations with friends and colleagues, O'Sullivan realized this type of technology eventually could be used for autonomous weapons. In January, she wrote to Clarifai CEO Matt Zeiler on behalf of a group of employees, seeking clarification on whether the technology would be used to create weapons and asking him to commit to a series of ethical measures.
The nation's top-level intelligence office, the Director of National Intelligence, wants to find "the most accurate unconstrained face recognition algorithm." A branch of the office, which oversees the nation's spy agencies, is holding a contest toward that end, with submissions due no later than 2pm ET June 15. "Have you developed software to identity faces in general web photographs? Can your software verify that a face in one photograph is the same as in another?" asks a posting on challenge.gov The goal of the Face Recognition Prize Challenge is to improve core face recognition accuracy and expand the breadth of capture conditions and environments suitable for successful face recognition.
In dozens of urban centers across the globe, city planners are putting eyes in the sky to help them make more-informed decisions about improving city life. Using advanced technology in digital aerial photography, laser imaging and analytics, cities are tackling a wide variety of problems. Singapore has created a 3-D cityscape to help make decisions about where to place solar panels and plant rooftop gardens, among other things. New York City firefighters are using drones to get better overhead views during fires. In Philadelphia, lasers beamed from airplanes are used to detect dangerous roof damage in dilapidated properties.
Drones are becoming more common in our skies, performing a variety of tasks, from taking photos to monitoring crops and potentially even delivering broadband. But there are strict rules about their usage, which has led some to come up with innovative ways to fly such vehicles more safely. "I'm using a dog leash for a small dog," says roboticist Sergei Lupashin as he demonstrates a new kind of consumer-friendly drone at the Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Vancouver. By tethering it, he hopes the Fotokite, as it is called, can avoid some of the issues faced by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are banned without a special licence because of safety and privacy concerns. "It doesn't rely on GPS [ Global Positioning System], sophisticated machine vision, radio, it doesn't even use a compass.
Flying a drone for commercial purposes will no longer require a pilot's license, the Federal Aviation Administration announced in new rules released Tuesday. Drones flown in for-profit uses will no longer require a special permit so long as they weigh no more than 55 pounds, soar no higher than 400 feet and fly no closer than 400 feet from buildings or structures, the guidelines stipulate. Previous rules required commercial drone operators to have a pilot's license and apply for an FAA waiver – a tedious process believed to have steered many businesses to use drones without proper permission. The new regulation, which takes effect in August, will allow anyone over the age of 16 to fly a commercial drone so long as they apply for a remote pilot certificate, which requires passing an aeronautics test at an FAA-approved facility and undergoing a background check. That threshold is far lower than a pilot's license – a move likely to encourage greater commercial use of drones, industry experts predict.
Photography company Getty Images is accusing Google of scraping images from third party websites and encouraging piracy, adding a new wrinkle to the Mountain View, Calif.'s ongoing legal battles in Europe. In its complaint to the European Union's antitrust commission, Getty says Google Images, which displays full-screen slideshows of high-resolution copyrighted images, has hurt the stock agency's licensing business as well as content creators worldwide. Google first introduced the feature in Jan. 2013. Previously, the search engine only displayed tiny thumbnails of images. In a statement released to TIME ahead of the filing, Getty argues that since image consumption is immediate, "there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site" once it's seen in high resolution on Google.