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The Wall That Knows If You're a Criminal 119

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you're-all-going-to-prison dept.
Barence writes "A German company called Dermalog is showing off a wall-sized transparent display that can tell a person's age, mood and criminal intent simply by scanning their face. The system displays data about the user next to their face, and is a demonstration of a fraud-prevention system that matches criminal intent to certain characteristics. PC Pro's tester wasn't overly impressed. 'If the face was a good enough indicator of mood then it should have tagged me as "freaked out on business technological ennui," not simply "happy", and no police force would accept a description of someone as "aged between 45 and 75 — that's the gap between Daniel Craig and Jack Nicholson.'"
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The Wall That Knows If You're a Criminal

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  • Face scan? (Score:5, Funny)

    by clam666 (1178429) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:15AM (#43092651)
    Phrenology!
    • Re:Face scan? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jythie (914043) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:30AM (#43092821)
      My thoughts exactly. I thought that was a bit of pseudoscience we had seen the last of...

      Then again, the whole 'reading' people seems to be a new fad that has really picked up over the last few years. Books, TV shows, newsertainment, all trying to claim you can magically tell what someone is really thinking/intending without them knowing.... and even today they teach this garbage to LEO as if it was actually accurate.
      • Re:Face scan? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:37AM (#43092905)

        Well, there are facial cues that statistically indicate you're feeling emotion X, trying to act manipulative, considering lying, etc. Not the common misconception of "looking to the left means this, to the right means that" but other things.

        Some say it's very accurate. I'm in the belief that, even if it is... it's just statistics.

        Humans are strange and there are lots of outliers: emotionally, psychologically, mentally, and even physically. So people shouldn't put too much faith into it and condemn someone just because they hit a few of the cues.

        Even if 99% of people do this facial tick 99% of the time... there are billions of people alive today... not to mention there have been billions of people that have lived and died. As such, that 1% is a large number of people for who that tick might mean something else.

        • Re:Face scan? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:25AM (#43093635) Homepage Journal

          I don't believe TFA does this, but a few days back I saw an article hosted at MIT about cameras/video processing that "sees the unseen" by amplification of small differences. For instance, by exaggerating minute color changes in the face they were able to see peoples' heartbeats. They also amplified small movements of buildings, peoples' eyes, etc.

          There is a whole slew of visual cues that we don't normally perceive, at least not consciously. The MIT article shows some of them. Now put together TFA with what MIT has done, and your statistics get better - perhaps frighteningly. (Perhaps what's even more frightening is when the statistics really haven't gotten better, but people believe that they have.)

          • Alternatively you end up with people being detained because they were thinking "bad thoughts" about someone else.

            Like when someone ogles a woman's ass while the wife is standing next to them.

            • Re:Face scan? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@cGINSBERGarpanet.net minus poet> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:36PM (#43094731) Homepage

              Exactly and thats just the start of it.

              So you are walking into a building that requires you sign in, you show your ID, the system tells the security desk that you are 45, but your ID says 26. If it does this too often, it will either be ignored (useless system) or cause people to be detained needlessly (useless and costly).

              You just had a screaming match with your soon to be ex wife over the phone driving in... ut oh, emotional distress right there.

              Even wost, you may end up with people having major panic attacks because the scanner is telling security this person is under huge emotional stress, causing them to watch more closely and cause more anxiety.

              Then the sociopath walks in and starts spinning well meshed lies right to the security gaurds face, and the scanner picks up no emotional stress, because he isn't really under any. But thats ok, security is too busy having the police escort out the girl who just broke down in a panic to really deal with him anyway.

              • by meerling (1487879)
                The studies and statistics clearly show that humans constantly over rate their ability to detect lies and intent, especially with those they do not know well.
                Since humans haven't even figured out a method of detecting lies with a reasonable accuracy, how the heck can someone assume they can make a machine do it?
                It's like building a jet fighter. If you don't know how, it's impossible for you to build or program a robot to do it for you.
                Every piece of 'expert' software out there was made using someones skill
                • "Since humans haven't even figured out a method of detecting lies with a reasonable accuracy, how the heck can someone assume they can make a machine do it"

                  I can't write perfectly straight lines with pico-liter drops of ink, how could I expect my printer do do that?

                  • by TheCarp (96830)

                    Except, being able to do it, and figuring out a method are not the same thing. Building a machine requires discovery of the method which the machine implements.

              • by steelfood (895457)

                Then the sociopath walks in and starts spinning well meshed lies right to the security gaurds face, and the scanner picks up no emotional stress, because he isn't really under any. But thats ok, he's the CEO of the company who owns the building.

                FTFY.

                Oh, by the way, his company is too big to fail.

            • The Old Ones help us, in the end we might get arrested for constructing slippery slopes! Think of the Children, my friends!!
          • by Anonymous Coward

            It's bad enough we have things as unreliable as lie detectors still considered as carrying weight, and we have cops with a level of technological understanding that is at the 'believing hackers can probably hack into computers by whistling into a phone' level, do we really want a new generation of cops going around believing these new computer algorithms can "infer criminal intent" in any meaningfully reliant way? That thought is scary. That's the same mentality as killing "witches" because they float, or t

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            The issue is that the algorithm must exist, and if it's known, it's likely to be beatable. It's not nearly as hard to beat a lie detector as "they" assert.

            The uncertainty gets less, but the accuracy doesn't. Most people can't make that distinction, so all they hear is "better".
        • Frank Herbert did it.

          Of course, that was SCIENCE FICTION in DUNE.

        • by F'Nok (226987) *

          Actually, anyone that falls into any one of quite a large number of groups with emotional/psychological differences will almost certainly be misread by such things at least a noticeable portion of the time.

          Autism spectrum, AD/HD, bipolar, and an assortment of other labels and people that might be considered part of the 'highly sensitive persons' end of the human spectrum.

          These sorts of technologies are going to be hell for all those people if they fall into more common use. These things are already a signif

    • by sribe (304414) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:35AM (#43092877)

      Phrenology!

      Nope, not at all!

      Phrenology on a computer! Which is obviously completely different and patent-worthy!

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      When I read the title I envisioned a facial recognition scanner which would match the scanned face to a database of convicted criminals.
    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind." O.C. Bible
      • "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind." O.C. Bible

        Yes. Making a machine that wobbles like a bowel of jello and acts like a batch of electrified spaghetti probably isn't a good idea.

    • by cod3r_ (2031620)
      Good thing there are masks!
    • Although the fact that this is obviously a flawed system may not prevent police agencies from using it.
  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:15AM (#43092663) Journal
    That still won't stop DHS from ordering one for every security line.
    • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:19AM (#43092713) Homepage Journal

      How else are they going to generate the annual false positives they need to point to to justify their own existence, then, smart guy?

      • Use a camera that outputs colour and you can soon generate the desired bias.

    • by Seumas (6865)

      Of course it doesn't matter. The same way the actual reliability of a drug sniffing dog alerting on you doesn't matter. This will be yet another thing with massive false positives that is merely used to justify the choices of the police force, without them having to accept the blame for their decisions.

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:44AM (#43093005)

      Hard to sell.

      Imagine a conference room with a salesman, a CEO and a bunch of politicians. Who do you propose they use to check whether the machine is actually capable of giving a negative?

      • by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:09AM (#43093351)

        Imagine a conference room with a salesman, a CEO and a bunch of politicians. Who do you propose they use to check whether the machine is actually capable of giving a negative?

        The schmuck they had to pull into the room to help them find the "on" button.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Imagine a conference room with a salesman, a CEO and a bunch of politicians. Who do you propose they use to check whether the machine is actually capable of giving a negative?

          The schmuck they had to pull into the room to help them find the "on" button.

          Computer: I see you hate your job and hate your boss with a borderline psychopathic myopia, and you think that all the people around you are idiots who don't deserve to breathe your air. You have been added to the handgun watch list out of an abundance of

    • That still won't stop DHS from ordering one for every security line.

      Are you in the mood for some groping?

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@l y n x . b c .ca> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:28AM (#43092805) Journal

    It knows when...
    You're happy [hooray!]
    Or sad [aw!]
    Or fightened [eek!]
    Or mad[rats!]
    Or excited [wow!]
    Or glad [hey!]
    .... So it's basically, a visual interjection detector. Nifty.

  • by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:33AM (#43092865) Homepage

    Most succesfull criminals generally have:

      * Honest looking face, do not avert eye contant and have firm grip
      * Dress the same or a bit better than their marks.
      * Are happy and unconcerned when doing their work.
      * Bathed and groomed.
      * Get a bit of charisma.
      * Are not dumb.

    This is incredibly important for pickpockets - if you are in suit and looking like you are just comming from business meeting, people will not suspect a thing. And if you get caught, you can talk your way out because it can be played as misunderstanding.

    Compare this to badly dressed, tatooed, nervous member of differently colored minory which causes people put their hands on their valuables immediatelly. (Those are good to detecting where people have their valuable stuff so that their coworker has much easier time)

    Any system that judges people on looks is going to be way too stupid to know this. Most people are too scared to notice real dangers. And now they made software that mimicks this stupidity.

    Bravo.

    And we are not event getting to how evil this thing is because of basically labeling people randomly as criminals.

    • by stenvar (2789879)

      Romana: You mean you didn't believe his story?

      The Doctor: No.

      Romana: But he had such an honest face.

      The Doctor: Romana, you can't be a successful crook with a dishonest face, can you?

    • Most succesfull criminals generally have

      I think you're giving criminals a lot of credit here. Especially with the pickpocket example. From what I've seen the most successful pickpockets are just too young to punch.

    • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:06AM (#43093299)

      I think you're over glamorizing the common criminal.

      Sure, there are tons of con-men and con-women out there that could talk you out of your wallet's contents with a wink of an eye. And sure, there are a lot of well-dressed pick pockets out there... so you don't think they're up to something. And lets not even delve into the white-collar criminals.

      But a majority of criminals are not that sophisticated and wearing decent clothes. There are PLENTY of thugs out there as well as hoodlum kids.

      Try walking down a bad part of Newark or Chicago some time. Trust me, if-and-when you are the victim of a crime it won't be the handsome guy in a suit or the hawt girl in a nice dress. Chances are it will be a thug (of ANY color / creed / whatever) that takes your stuff.

      • by epine (68316)

        Try walking down a bad part of Newark or Chicago some time.

        Try swabbing a teenager's festering zit, and I guarantee you'll be joining angry rallies to support "tough on zit" politicians in favour of dumping metric buck tonnes of antibiotics into the drinking water supply to eradicate the entirety of the human microbiome.

        Cherry pick much? The festering zit of American inner cities was not built in a day, and involved countless firm handshakes of well dressed men behind closed doors. A crime ghetto provides

        • The grandparent was describing MOST common-criminals as smooth talking, finely dressed con-men and hot pick-pockets. He wasn't making a social commentary about politicians / CEOs / etc.

          I was saying that I think he's over-glamorizing the common-criminal. They're not all "Danny Ocean" from "Ocean's Eleven" or whatever. Most are just thugs.

      • by Nyder (754090)

        I think you're over glamorizing the common criminal.

        Sure, there are tons of con-men and con-women out there that could talk you out of your wallet's contents with a wink of an eye. And sure, there are a lot of well-dressed pick pockets out there... so you don't think they're up to something. And lets not even delve into the white-collar criminals.

        But a majority of criminals are not that sophisticated and wearing decent clothes. There are PLENTY of thugs out there as well as hoodlum kids.

        Try walking down a bad part of Newark or Chicago some time. Trust me, if-and-when you are the victim of a crime it won't be the handsome guy in a suit or the hawt girl in a nice dress. Chances are it will be a thug (of ANY color / creed / whatever) that takes your stuff.

        I was a very good shoplifter because I didn't look like I was there to steal.

      • by sjames (1099)

        He did say successful. There are also a lot of not so successful criminals. They also manage to steal things, but on average don't do much better than minimum wage.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        Try walking down a bad part of Newark or Chicago some time.

        Are you advocating suicide?

    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:17AM (#43093501) Journal

      Most succesfull criminals generally have:

          * Honest looking face, do not avert eye contant and have firm grip
          * Dress the same or a bit better than their marks.
          * Are happy and unconcerned when doing their work.
          * Bathed and groomed.
          * Get a bit of charisma.
          * Are not dumb.

      This is incredibly important for pickpockets

      Not just pick pockets. Politicians, lawyers, bankers, salesmen, and insurance agents too. These groups are responsible for the crime that causes the most damage to society. The ghetto thugs and disheveled crazy people are negligible risks compared to these people.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:37AM (#43092909)

    Since "criminal intent" seems to be largely defined as "not happy", 95% of people in various government office waiting rooms will be flagged as having "criminal intent". I suppose it clears out the waiting rooms faster.

  • Such methods can't tell the difference between a criminal, a social critic or someone who's just having a bad day.

    Giving them credibility is a mistake, as it will influence people to treat possible hits as probable ones.

  • He sees you when you're sleeping
    He knows when you're awake
    He knows if you've been bad or good...

    • That song has always been creepy. Heck, simply sung without enthusiasm and it sounds like the guy flippin' horror movie slashser.

      My favorite is when TV shows have the "singers" softly sing the song in a slightly different key in order to creep someone out.

       

  • by shentino (1139071)

    Be well!

  • by ravenscar (1662985) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:51AM (#43093063)

    If you put one of these in a bar and charged $.50 per face scan you'd make a fortune. At this point, this is probably all that this is good for anyhow.

  • We're entering into the age of the Minority Report.
  • The Wall That Knows If You're a Criminal

    25 years back or so they used a low tech solution [wikipedia.org] for it...

  • If it can detect age then this is easy. If they are under 21 then they are definitely a criminal. And probably listen to the rock and roll music.
  • by indeterminator (1829904) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @10:58AM (#43093181)

    Step 1: Flag the person as a criminal.
    That's all the steps. The chance of false positive is very small. Most people either have already done something illegal, or will do something illegal at some point of their lives.

    • by mark-t (151149)

      Possibly... but not all crimes have equal punishment.

      The penalty for going slightly over a speed limit (with otherwise no harm done), for example, although still certainly illegal, is not met with the same type of penalty as, say, kidnapping or murder.

      So unless you can say exactly *what* the person did that was illegal, step 1, by itself, is inadequate.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Step 1: Flag the person as a criminal.
      That's all the steps. The chance of false positive is very small. Most people either have already done something illegal, or will do something illegal at some point of their lives.

      Step 0: Make laws which redefine things most people do as criminal behavior.

      • That's how they caught the pirate bay.

        1) Make law that defines what you're already doing to be illegal.
        2) ...
        3) Profit!

  • It scans your face and checks to see if your eyes are squinting and darting from side to side, all suspicious like.

    Next year, they plan on introducing the fraudster audio plug-in that will flag anything that starts with the words "Pssst! Hey you... yeah you... come'ere a sec..."

  • If I were a criminal or politician, I'd want one for practicing facial expressions. Maybe also hide one at the podium next to my teleprompter, to make sure I'm properly conveying the right message. Or give one to the make-up staffer to ensure that I look just right to the people. The rest of us will have to wait until it comes out as a smartphone app.

  • PC Pro's tester wasn't overly impressed. 'If the face was a good enough indicator of mood then it should have tagged me as "freaked out on business technological ennui," not simply "happy", and no police force would accept a description of someone as "aged between 45 and 75 — that's the gap between Daniel Craig and Jack Nicholson.'"

    So in other words, they've invented the first robotic psychic?

  • by lahvak (69490) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:17AM (#43093505) Homepage Journal

    It works just like our cops - it looks at the color of your skin: if your skin is somewhat darker, you are a criminal!

    • by clam666 (1178429)

      It works just like our cops - it looks at the color of your skin: if your skin is somewhat darker, you are a criminal!

      Perhaps that's the software engineering behind this. It doesn't so much have a neural network looking at the precise differences between the relative positions of facial elements, the system is much simpler to design.

      1. Convert scanned image to greyscale.

      2. If greyscale_value > const_michael_jackson_value then

      3. Full body cavity search.

      3. Otherwise, upgrade passenger to First Class

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      no it checks if you put the milk in first to your tea and then says "for you the war is over Tommy"
  • First thing I'd want to do is rub my hands together and look generally menacing in front of this wall, just to see what it would say.
  • ...no police force would accept a description of someone as "aged between 45 and 75 — that's the gap between Daniel Craig and Jack Nicholson."

    It's easy enough to program the wall to tell the difference between them. Daniel Craig is the one who is perpetually adjacent to a 20-something female who has an elevated heart rate and increased respiration. Jack Nicholson is the one beating the glass wall with a golf club [history.com].

  • Did they dig up some of Mengele's research?
  • Wouldn't this only work if people didn't know they were being scanned? Otherwise, they would probably purposely change their facial expressions every few seconds. If anyone questions it, they simply claim they are protesting the use of such a device. What are they going to do? Make it illegal to make silly faces?
  • You're wall going to prison.

  • facecrime (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    facecrime: An indication that a person is guilty of thoughtcrime based on their facial expression. Orwell's definition : "It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself -- anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face

  • Does it distinguish between true criminal intent and the desire to smash the display for being so nosy?
  • Psycho-Pass (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ultra64 (318705) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @01:19PM (#43095297)

    Sounds like Psycho-Pass http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycho-Pass#Plot [wikipedia.org]

  • Really that's what it boils down to, knowing a guilty face just by looking at it??? Statistically you might be right most of the time, but the rest of the time you are mistreating innocent people. Not OK in my book.
  • With their "Arrest black babies before they become criminals" and "Arrest white babies before they become child molesters" tshirts.

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