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It's time to face the ugly reality of face recognition

Mike Elgan | March 20, 2017
The use of A.I. to recognise faces is growing fast. Here's why you should be worried about your personal privacy

A character on the TV series Minority Report sports face tattoos designed to fool face recognition.

Is that really our future?

Hyperface. Designer Adam Harvey has created a fabric with a pattern designed to produce false positives in face-recognition systems. 

A cottage industry of products designed to protect against face recognition is emerging. These products illustrate just how unlikely protection is.

For example, a designer named Adam Harvey invented a fabric that's supposed to fool face-recognition computers into thinking the cloth is covered with faces. As the system tries to recognize the multiple faces in the pattern, the confidence score of the match should go down.

Harvey has also explored hairstyles and makeup that could fool face recognition technology .

A Kickstarter campaign for a product called ekō Glasses is designed to disrupt face recognition. The frames are highly reflective of both visible and infrared light, and therefore create a bright light in the middle of your face to confuse face-recognition A.I.

These schemes, while thought-provoking, aren't practical defenses against pervasive face scanning.

You can still opt out of face scanning whenever you're given the option -- for example while traveling or getting your driver's license. You can delete your social media and photo sharing accounts. And you can avoid using face recognition features and apps with your phone.

Beyond that, there's little you can do to protect yourself from the growing privacy threat of face recognition technology.


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