Facial Recognition Tech Is Growing Stronger, Thanks to Your Face

BIG BROTHER - SPYING - SURVEILLANCE - WHISTLEBLOWING, 15 Jul 2019

Cade Metz – The New York Times

The Brainwash database, created by Stanford University researchers, contained more than 10,000 images and nearly 82,000 annotated heads.
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13 Jul 2019 — Dozens of databases of people’s faces are being compiled without their knowledge by companies and researchers, with many of the images then being shared around the world, in what has become a vast ecosystem fueling the spread of facial recognition technology.

The databases are pulled together with images from social networks, photo websites, dating services like OkCupid and cameras placed in restaurants and on college quads. While there is no precise count of the data sets, privacy activists have pinpointed repositories that were built by Microsoft, Stanford University and others, with one holding over 10 million images while another had more than two million.

The face compilations are being driven by the race to create leading-edge facial recognition systems. This technology learns how to identify people by analyzing as many digital pictures as possible using “neural networks,” which are complex mathematical systems that require vast amounts of data to build pattern recognition.

Tech giants like Facebook and Google have most likely amassed the largest face data sets, which they do not distribute, according to research papers. But other companies and universities have widely shared their image troves with researchers, governments and private enterprises in Australia, China, India, Singapore and Switzerland for training artificial intelligence, according to academics, activists and public papers.

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Companies and labs have gathered facial images for more than a decade, and the databases are merely one layer to building facial recognition technology. But people often have no idea that their faces are in them. And while names are typically not attached to the photos, individuals can be recognized because each face is unique to a person.

A visualization of 2,000 of the identities included in the MS Celeb database from Microsoft.
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