The city of Bucheon, population 830,000, is a satellite city southwest of Seoul and part of the greater metropolitan area and the site of a pilot program to apply AI facial recognition and tracking technologies to aid Covid-19 epidemiological investigators. South Korea has been generally praised for its rapid response to coronavirus patient tracking since the beginning of the outbreak. People entering public facilities enter their information on a roster or scan a QR code. Epidemiologists tracking outbreaks use a variety of data available to them, including these logs, electronic transaction data, mobile phone location logs, CCTV footage, and interviews. But the workload can be overwhelming, and there are only a fixed number of workers with the required training available, despite efforts to hire more.
As contract tracing has been done to-date, it takes one investigator up to an hour to trace the movements of one patient. When the system goes online in January, it should be able to trace one patient in less than a minute, handling up to ten traces simultaneously. Project officials say there is no plan for this system to expand to the rest of Seoul, nor nationwide. But with the growing virus caseloads and continued difficulties hiring and training investigators, it’s not unexpected that officials will be turning to these technologies more and more to keep up with the increasing workload.
Like the controversy surrounding the recent facial recognition project at Incheon International Airport, people are becoming concerned about the privacy implications and the specter of a Big Brother government that tracks each and every move of its citizens — a valid fear, given the state of technology today. The project planners note that the data is being legally collected and its usage subject to strict rules. Korean privacy law requires consent for the collecting and storage of biometric data. But there are exceptions for situations such as disease control and prevention.
Even if all the privacy concerns are solves, we wonder just how effective these AI systems will be for tracking people wearing masks. This is not an issue unique to South Korea or even Asia. Many countries around the world are turning to such technologies (see this article from the Columbia School of Law) and are having similar struggles striking the balance between privacy and public health requirements.
[Banner image: “facial-recognition-1” by Electronic_Frontier_Foundation. Thanks for all you do!]
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.
Continue reading “Your Face Is Going Places You May Not Like”
[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.
Continue reading “Get Digital Plastic Surgery Thanks To OpenFrameworks And Some Addons”