Don’t Even Try

Chances are, your doctor already knows about those late-night pizza deliveries, as HMOs and other medical facilities are increasingly data-mining your credit/debit and other purchases and tying them into your health record number. Not that it matters to me; I do most of the grocery shopping, and after my Bride had gall-bladder removal surgery a couple of months back, she’s on a low-fat diet. So my purchases are going to come up squeaky-clean, health-wise.

They don’t know that I paid cash at the Dairy Queen on my way back….


About maxredlines

experience: biology, zoology, psychology. authored/co-authored papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as numerous professional proceedings. authored articles appearing in computer-oriented publications. featured in publications ranging from books to New Yorker magazine to television.
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4 Responses to Don’t Even Try

  1. lectorconstans says:

    I used to think that the next barrier computers would have a hard time breaking (they broke all the rest) would be face recognition. Our brains are specially wired for that (probably so you could tell Uncle Og from the saber-tooth tiger) – after all, two dots over an arc: how is that a face? but it certainly is. Then there’s “The Old Man of the Mountain”.

    I’m sure that there’s at least one more thing that computers won’t be able to do……

    There’s an article on building your own face-recognition lock:
    using a Raspberry Pi.

    One place where this might be useful is in identifying police sketches of suspects. Given one face, we can almost immediately know if it’s someone we know or have seen, but given a book of photos – that may muddy the waters of identification.

    Another similar area is the software that can “age” a photo (either way), used in trying to find kidnapped children years later.

    I’ve put my Skype sticker over the camera lens (I don’t use it anyway).

    This NeoFace thing could result in a surge f sales of “V” masks…..

    • maxredlines says:

      There’s a lot of cool stuff being done with those dinky, cheap Pi boards. This is another interesting application – but it won’t work on my fireproof safe….

      The NeoFace software can process and track thousands of people at once; pretty amazing, and scary. Of course, it’s all about “safer cities”. Uh huh,

      Since it’s possible to remote-access a webcam, I did the sticker routine and it seems to work pretty well.

  2. lectorconstans says:

    I’ve been reading about data mining &c, and I’ve come up with a term we should pay attention to: your data footprint.

    The subject of universal surveillance was covered briefly in D’Souza’s “America”. We both know that with enough data points from here & there (and not that many), “they” can pinpoint that data to an individual.

    It also mentioned the book “Three Felonies a Day”
    which reminded me of what Cardinal Richelieu said: “Give me 5 lines written by an honest man, and I’ll find enough to convict him”.

    • maxredlines says:

      Good points. And interestingly enough, there’s a tv show I ran across some time back called “Person of Interest”, which I thought was a little “out there” in terms of science fiction: there are cameras everywhere, and a program tracks faces, drawing a white-bordered box around each face being tracked and identified. Bizarro.

      Or so I thought.

      Imagine my surprise to discover that it’s not only not “out there”, it’s here, and being marketed by NEC.

      Not only is it identical to what was depicted in the television show, but Chicago just used that technology to obtain a first: they got a thief convicted in court using that facial-recognition software. It’s called NeoFace.

      “CTA surveillance cameras captured photos of Martin in both of the robberies. His photo was compared to the department’s 4.5 million criminal booking shots and he ranked No. 1 among possible matches, officials said.”

      NeoFace technology “assesses” and “matches” anyone caught on video.

      And it’s by no means limited to relying on booking photos; any image data will do: your drivers’ license, your passport, that time you got “flashed” by a red-light camera…any or all of that, and more, can be assessed and matched. It can be done after the fact, as in the Chicago robberies, or it can be done in real time, as depicted in the television series.

      Of course, it’s not just city police using facial recognition technology. As evidenced in last week’s latest Snowden leak, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”—including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images”—which translate into ”tremendous untapped potential.”

      Of course, since you’ve never sent an image of yourself across the internet, you’re probably in the clear, right? Right? Call me paranoid, but I long ago stuck a post-it note over the Crystal Eye webcam that’s built into my laptop.

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