New artificial intelligence facial recognition system could be 'privacy apocalypse'

Researchers from FBI to Facebook look into "DeepFace" technology

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Imagine having a pair of Google glasses at a party, turning over to look at an attractive woman, and because of facial recognition technology be able to get to know her on Facebook and ask her on a date on Tinder.

An artificial intelligence system known as "DeepFace" could make that possible in the near future. The controversial facial-recognition software is a marketing companies' dream come true and a nightmare for privacy advocates.

Facebook -- which already uses a less effective facial recognition system to allow users to tag photographs -- has researchers looking into the system. While law enforcement is already experimenting with the system and expanding databases to increase its effectiveness.

Facebook spokeswoman Lydia Chan told Local 10 News contributor CNN Money that the technology was considered "theoretical research"  and the company is not using it yet.

The technology has been advancing since the 1960s. The FBI recognizes the technology is not reliable, but it's getting closer.  "DeepFace" creates three-dimensional models of the faces and uses "Deep Learning" -- a system that mimics the structure of neurons in the brain.

While studies show humans can identify facial differences about 97.53 percent of the time, "DeepFace" promises to do so at 97.25 percent. The system uses more than 120 million different parameters to analyze large data sets and draw connections.

The FBI is reportedly working on a database of millions of photographs and fingerprints called Next Generation Identification. The technology could be linked to driver's license databases and other data to be classified by an FBI  Universal Control Number.

The future of "identification services is rapidly advancing beyond existing capabilities," said the FBI's 2008 "Privacy Impact Assessment" adding that the technology should be used as "an investigative aid and not as a means of positive identification."

Nonetheless, the privacy concerns are such that the American Civil Liberties Union has referred to facial-recognition technology as "The Privacy Apocalypse" The Federal Trade Commission issued recommendations  that asked commerce to keep consumer privacy in mind. But the ACLU policy makers do not think that's enough. 

The potential "socio-political dangers of the technology," and possibilities of the power of the technology are something scholars from New York University to the University of California have been looking into.

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