Never Forgetting a Face

SceneTap – “facial detection” … Friday debut of SF bar-cams stirs sour reception (May 17, 2012) …item 4.. Dr. No – Original Trailer (1962) — SPECTRE … (Photo credit: marsmet511)

Joseph J. Atick frets that he may have abetted a technology that could upend the social order.

Joseph J. Atick cased the floor of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington as if he owned the place. In a way, he did. He was one of the organizers of the event, a conference and trade show for the biometrics security industry. Perhaps more to the point, a number of the wares on display, like an airport face-scanning checkpoint, could trace their lineage to his work.

A physicist, Dr. Atick is one of the pioneer entrepreneurs of modern face recognition. Having helped advance the fundamental face-matching technology in the 1990s, he went into business and promoted the systems to government agencies looking to identify criminals or prevent identity fraud. “We saved lives,” he said during the conference in mid-March. “We have solved crimes.”

Thanks in part to his boosterism, the global business of biometrics — using people’s unique physiological characteristics, like their fingerprint ridges and facial features, to learn or confirm their identity — is booming. It generated an estimated $7.2 billion in 2012, according to reports by Frost & Sullivan.

Making his rounds at the trade show, Dr. Atick, a short, trim man with an indeterminate Mediterranean accent, warmly greeted industry representatives at their exhibition booths. Once he was safely out of earshot, however, he worried aloud about what he was seeing. What were those companies’ policies for retaining and reusing consumers’ facial data? Could they identify individuals without their explicit consent? Were they running face-matching queries for government agencies on the side?

Now an industry consultant, Dr. Atick finds himself in a delicate position. While promoting and profiting from an industry that he helped foster, he also feels compelled to caution against its unfettered proliferation. He isn’t so much concerned about government agencies that use face recognition openly for specific purposes — for example, the many state motor vehicle departments that scan drivers’ faces as a way to prevent license duplications and fraud. Rather, what troubles him is the potential exploitation of face recognition to identify ordinary and unwitting citizens as they go about their lives in public. Online, we are all tracked. But to Dr. Atick, the street remains a haven, and he frets that he may have abetted a technology that could upend the social order.

Face-matching today could enable mass surveillance, “basically robbing everyone of their anonymity,” he says, and inhibit people’s normal behavior outside their homes. Pointing to the intelligence documents made public by Edward J. Snowden, he adds that once companies amass consumers’ facial data, government agencies might obtain access to it, too.

To many in the biometrics industry, Dr. Atick’s warning seems Cassandra-like. Face recognition to them is no different from a car, a neutral technology whose advantages far outweigh the risks. The conveniences of biometrics seem self-evident: Your unique code automatically accompanies you everywhere. They envision a world where, instead of having to rely on losable ID cards or on a jumble of easily forgettable — not to mention hackable — passwords, you could unlock your smartphone or gain entry to banks, apartment complexes, parking garages and health clubs just by showing your face.

Dr. Atick sees convenience in these kinds of uses as well. But he provides a cautionary counterexample to make his case.

Read more . . .

The Latest on: Face-matching

via  Bing News

 

How to Kick-Start Innovation with Free Data

Fireworks in Oakley, July 3, 2010
Weather and GPS information stimulated the economy with new products and services. Todd Park, the U.S. chief technology officer, wants to repeat that success with the rest of the government’s data trove

Government-funded projects have yielded a wealth of information, but much of this data has historically remained locked up in difficult-to-use form. To get this data to people who might start businesses with them, the Obama administration created the position of chief technology officer.

Todd Park, the nation’s current CTO, has plenty of innovation experience. In 1997, at the age of 24, he co-founded his first start-up, called Athenahealth, which provides online data management for physicians. After momentarily retiring to focus on his family he set up two other start-ups before joining the White House team four years ago.

At a media briefing in February he talked about getting government data into the hands of entrepreneurs to spark innovation and economic growth.

Read more . . .

via Scientific American – Philip Yam
 

The Latest Streaming News: Kick-Start Innovation with Free Data updated minute-by-minute

Bookmark this page and come back often
 

Latest NEWS

 

Latest VIDEO

 

The Latest from the BLOGOSPHERE

The Bitcoin – global anarchist financial revolution, giant scam, great investment or some combination of all three?

bitcoin-creation-value-overview
Money is a delusion – but a delusion that works as long as it’s shared.

The value of a U.S. dollar was once tied to a government guarantee that you could, at any time, exchange it for a quantity of precious metal – but since America officially abandoned the gold standard in 1971, its value is now more or less rooted in its ubiquity. If large swathes of people decided they would no longer accept it, it would suddenly be worth a lot less.

Government currencies like the American dollar are also a bit odd, in that a government can decide to print more money at any time to serve its own purposes. This is very handy for the government, but through inflation it causes each individual dollar to be worth a bit less each time.

It’s a problem that will persist with pretty much any currency that’s managed by one central organization. And distrust of these organizations is one of the strongest driving forces behind alternative currencies like Bitcoin. The idea is to create an entirely new currency that’s widely accepted, fairly stable, and more or less inflation-proof because the money supply can’t be increased at the whim of some central figure.

So how do you create a new currency?

The answer, more or less, seems to be that you simply build it, convince people it’s worth something, and give them an incentive to get on board.

Bitcoin was first proposed in 2008 – a fortunate time, since faith in the global banking hegemony and government control of money was crashing as the global financial crisis kicked in.

It was designed by “Satoshi Nakamoto” – a pseudonym, possibly for a group of anonymous designers who have never revealed themselves. Bitcoin’s key selling points from day one were solid, trustworthy and transparent technology, a controlled money supply and a built-in early adopter bonus that made them very cheap to produce while the currency got off the ground.

The third point is probably the most important; Bitcoins are produced by getting a computer to crunch complex algorithms. Once a certain amount of work is done, you create a brand new bitcoin. That amount of work was very quick and easy early in the piece, so early adopters were able to churn out large numbers of coins. But the algorithms are designed to become progressively more difficult over time, until a point some time around 2040 when the supply will be capped forever at around 21 million bitcoins.

Effectively, if you got in early, you could use your personal computer to churn out thousands of bitcoins – giving early adopters a heavy incentive to find things to do with them. But now, the Bitcoin mining process is already so difficult that you need a specialized rig bristling with dozens of graphics cards to make any decent progress.

This gradual restriction of supply is what Bitcoin advocates maintain makes the currency inflation-proof. There’s no such thing as “quantitative easing” in the Bitcoin world. In fact, as the money supply crawls to a stop, the currency should deflate over time, making each bitcoin increase in value.

Of course, it also makes the Bitcoin system look a lot like a pump and dump scam as well – early adopters mined huge amounts of bitcoins early on for very little effort, and stood to gain huge amounts of cold, hard, non-virtual cash if they could convince other people the bitcoin was worth something. But let’s backtrack a little before we explore that.

Read more . . .

via Gizmag – 
 

The Latest Streaming News: Bitcoin updated minute-by-minute

Bookmark this page and come back often
 

Latest NEWS

 

Latest VIDEO

 

The Latest from the BLOGOSPHERE

The Fight For Control Of The Internet Has Become Critical

In horror movies, the scariest moments usually come from the monster you can’t see.

So the same goes for real life, or at least online life. Over the past few years, largely out of sight, governments have been clawing back freedoms on the internet, turning an invention that was designed to emancipate the individual into a tool for surveillance and control. In the next few months, this process is set to be enshrined internationally, amid plans to put cyberspace under the authority of a largely secretive and obscure UN agency.

If this succeeds, this will be an important boost to states’ plans to censor the web and to use it to monitor citizens. Virtually all governments are at it. Some are much worse than others. The introduction last month of a law in Russia creating a blacklist of websites that contain “extremist” content was merely the latest example of an alarming trend. Authoritarian states have long seen cyberspace as the ultimate threat to their source of power.

They are given succour by self-styled democracies who seek to introduce legislation enhancing the rights of authorities and security agencies to snoop. The British government’s current draft communications bill would produce a system of blanket collection and retention of all online data. As the group Privacy International pointed out in its submission to parliament: “The technology that will be used is only currently deployed in Kazakhstan, China and Iran … subjecting citizens to the near certainty of ongoing and unremitting interference in their private lives.”

All governments, whatever their hue, cite similar threats: terrorism and organised crime, child pornography and intellectual property are the ones most commonly used. Unsurprisingly these, and local variants, are used by dictatorships, who need merely to point to precedents set in the west to counter any criticism with the charge of hypocrisy.

The internet, as originally envisaged, was borderless. In theory, anyone could – if they had access to the bandwidth – find out information anywhere and communicate with anyone. The demarcation between free expression and data and identify privacy on the one hand, and the state’s right to security on the other, is continually debated and recalibrated, partly due to technological advances.

One of the most vigorous places for debate has been the Internet Governance Forum, which since its founding in 2005 has brought together governments, private sector firms large and small, academics and members of civil society. This year’s meeting in November takes place incongruously and intriguingly in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, a country with a particularly poor record on free expression and suppression of dissent.

What matters, as the lines are drawn, is transparency and inclusivity. If the internet is to be governed more cohesively, and on a less ad hoc basis than now, then it should not be left to governments alone. There has never been a central authority, and the internet has flourished in spite of (or perhaps because of) its decentralised governance model.

The reverse is now in prospect. In December in Dubai, a body that has existed for 150 years but few outside narrow industry circles have heard of, is seeking to take control of the internet. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN organisation that counts 193 countries as its members, aims to add the internet to its existing regulatory roles. Its strongest supporters include regimes such as China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who submitted a proposal last September to the UN general assembly for an “international code of conduct for information security”. Its goal is to establish government-led “international norms and rules standardising the behaviour of countries concerning information and cyberspace”.

These countries, and others of their ilk, have three main goals for the Dubai summit and beyond: an assertion of national sovereignty over cyber communication; a clampdown on anonymity and encryption; and a change in global governance.

Read more . . .

via The Telegraph – John Kampfner
 

The Latest Streaming News: Control Of The Internet updated minute-by-minute

Bookmark this page and come back often
 

Latest NEWS

 

Latest VIDEO

 

The Latest from the BLOGOSPHERE

Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries

Crest of the University of Toronto
Image via Wikipedia

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected.

Read more . . .

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]