Your Face is Going Places You May Not Like

Many Chinese cities, among them Ningbo, are investing heavily in AI and facial recognition technology. Uses range from border control — at Shanghai’s international airport and the border crossing with Macau — to the trivial: shaming jaywalkers.

In Ningbo, cameras oversee the intersections, and use facial-recognition to shame offenders by putting their faces up on large displays for all to see, and presumably mutter “tsk-tsk”. So it shocked Dong Mingzhu, the chairwoman of China’s largest air conditioner firm, to see her own face on the wall of shame when she’d done nothing wrong. The AIs had picked up her face off of an ad on a passing bus.

False positives in detecting jaywalkers are mostly harmless and maybe even amusing, for now. But the city of Shenzhen has a deal in the works with cellphone service providers to identify the offenders personally and send them a text message, and eventually a fine, directly to their cell phone. One can imagine this getting Orwellian pretty fast.

Facial recognition has been explored for decades, and it is now reaching a tipping point where the impacts of the technology are starting to have real consequences for people, and not just in the ways dystopian sci-fi has portrayed. Whether it’s racist, inaccurate, or easily spoofed, getting computers to pick out faces correctly has been fraught with problems from the beginning. With more and more companies and governments using it, and having increasing impact on the public, the stakes are getting higher.

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Get digital plastic surgery thanks to openFrameworks and some addons

[Kyle McDonald] is trying out a new look, at least in the digital world, with the help of some openFrameworks video plugins. He’s working with [Arturo Castro] to make real-time facial substitution as realistic as possible. You can see that [Arturo’s] own video has a different take on shading and color of the facial alterations that makes them a bit less realistic than what [Kyle] was able to accomplish (see that clip after the break).

The setup depends on some facial tracking software developed by [Jason Saragih]. That package is wrapped in ofxFaceTracker (already linked at the top of this article) which makes it play nicely with openFrameworks. From there, it’s just a matter of image processing. If you think you’re up to the challenge, grab your own copies of the source code and get to work. We’re shocked by how real this looks, even when [Kyle] grabs his cheeks and stretches them out. If someone can fix some of the artifacts around the edges of the sampled faces this would be ready to use when video-conferencing.

It kind of makes us think of technology seen in The Running Man.

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