FBI launches $1 billion face recognition project – tech – 07 September 2012 – New Scientist

The Next Generation Identification programme will include a nationwide database of criminal faces and other biometrics

“FACE recognition is ‘now’,” declared Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in a testimony before the US Senate in July.

It certainly seems that way. As part of an update to the national fingerprint database, the FBI has begun rolling out facial recognition to identify criminals.

It will form part of the bureau’s long-awaited, $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme, which will also add biometrics such as iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification to the toolkit. A handful of states began uploading their photos as part of a pilot programme this February and it is expected to be rolled out nationwide by 2014. In addition to scanning mugshots for a match, FBI officials have indicated that they are keen to track a suspect by picking out their face in a crowd.

Another application would be the reverse: images of a person of interest from security cameras or public photos uploaded onto the internet could be compared against a national repository of images held by the FBI. An algorithm would perform an automatic search and return a list of potential hits for an officer to sort through and use as possible leads for an investigation.

Ideally, such technological advancements will allow law enforcement to identify criminals more accurately and lead to quicker arrests. But privacy advocates are worried by the broad scope of the FBI’s plans. They are concerned that people with no criminal record who are caught on camera alongside a person of interest could end up in a federal database, or be subject to unwarranted surveillance.

The FBI’s Jerome Pender told the Senate in July that the searchable photo database used in the pilot studies only includes mugshots of known criminals. But it’s unclear from the NGI’s privacy statement whether that will remain the case once the entire system is up and running or if civilian photos might be added, says attorney Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The FBI was unable to answer New Scientist‘s questions before the magazine went to press.

The FBI hasn’t shared details of the algorithms it is using, but its technology could be very accurate if applied to photographs taken in controlled situations such as passport photos or police shots.

Tests in 2010 showed that the best algorithms can pick someone out in a pool of 1.6 million mugshots 92 per cent of the time. It’s possible to match a mugshot to a photo of a person who isn’t looking at the camera too. Algorithms such as one developed by Marios Savvides’s lab at Carnegie Mellon can analyse features of a front and side view set of mugshots, create a 3D model of the face, rotate it as much as 70 degrees to match the angle of the face in the photo, and then match the new 2D image with a fairly high degree of accuracy. The most difficult faces to match are those in low light. Merging photos from visible and infrared spectra can sharpen these images, but infrared cameras are still very expensive.

Of course, it is easier to match up posed images and the FBI has already partnered with issuers of state drivers’ licences for photo comparison. Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union urges caution: “Once you start plugging this into the FBI database, it becomes tantamount to a national photographic database.”

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Private Prisons And War On Drugs

Fri Aug 31 03:16:47 BST 2012 by ullrich fischer

Given that current technologies are already aiding in the incarceration of more Americans than residents of any other country in the world, even including China, this technology will just add to the problem. As long as the clearly failed war on drugs continues and as long as there are for-profit prisons, there will be more people guilty of non-violent “crimes” ground up by the criminal “justice” system to the detriment of all Americans in terms of lost productivity and the tax burden increase as more tax money is shoveled into the profits of the prison “industry”. It seems pretty clear that the only reason the war on drugs continues is the corrupting influence of drug gang and prison profit money. Every single person who has studied the effects of the war on drugs with even the remotest whiff of scientific rigor has concluded that the cons far outweigh the pros. The analogy with prohibition of alcohol alone is pretty overwhelming evidence that the current war on drugs is counterproductive.

Private Prisons And War On Drugs

Sun Sep 09 15:56:22 BST 2012 by Michael Dowling

I couldn’t agree more with your views on this subject. If for financial reasons alone,legalizing all drugs would save the U.S. untold billions of dollars currently being sunk into drug interdiction,and would potentially bring in fresh billions in the form of taxes on the sale of legalized drugs.

Could you elaborate on the following? I’m not sure what you mean: “It seems pretty clear that the only reason the war on drugs continues is the corrupting influence of drug gang..”

My first thought was that you think cartels are financially backing political parties that oppose changes in drug policy,which wouldn’t be a revelation,as multinational companies are often accused of “buying” their candidate of choice at the federal level.

I think certain powerful groups have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo,chief among them being the DEA,whose bureaucracy would face being decimated if drugs were legalized.

I believe the analogy to alcohol prohibition is not completely accurate,however. Alcohol prohibition failed because drinking was (and is) accepted by almost all segments of society.In contrast,the use of illegal drugs is commonly associated with ne’er do wells

Is The Us Senate Getting Mad ??

Mon Sep 10 17:53:17 BST 2012 by J. C. de Jong

The time that big brother is watching you is coming very close. Who is asking for this nonsense? The budget is ridiculous and out of any proportion. Are scientists and engineers just robots and do they produce anything that is requested? Any moral? Compare that with the amount of money that is spent on alternative nuclear energy systems as Thorium LFTR, Thorium plasma battery etc and other excellent ideas where there is hardly any budget. There is an urgent need of non polluting energy and science are spending their time on face recognition? Get awake please !!!

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