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Through a Face Scanner Darkly 336

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-know-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with a story that raises the issue of how public anonymity is quickly disappearing thanks to facial recognition technology. "NameTag, an app built for Google Glass by a company called, offers a face scanner for encounters with strangers. You see somebody on the sidewalk and, slipping on your high-tech spectacles, select the app. Snap a photo of a passerby, then wait a minute as the image is sent up to the company's database and a match is hunted down. The results load in front of your left eye, a selection of personal details that might include someone's name, occupation, Facebook and/or Twitter profile, and, conveniently, whether there's a corresponding entry in the national sex-offender registry."
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Through a Face Scanner Darkly

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  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @09:46PM (#46137059) Homepage

    Soon, there will be other heads-up displays. This is one of the more useful applications for them. I'm looking forward to seeing how well it works.

  • fake data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by manu0601 (2221348) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @10:01PM (#46137131)
    Perhaps we should start posting fake profiles with random data to make the thing unusable?
  • by The Optimizer (14168) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @10:05PM (#46137155)

    because no one would misuse this tech to act creepy.

    True story:

    Back around 1989 I was maintaining a minicomputer system for a small chain of Auto Body Shops near Ft. Worth Texas. I got to know a lot about how the business works and made friends with some of the VERY blue collar guys who sanded, welded, painted and whatnot.

    At that time the body shop had dedicated terminal that could dial up the Texas DMV database and retrieve the registration info for a given license plate. On at least two separate occasions I observed one of the shop guys using the terminal to get the name and address of a car they observed that was driven by an attractive woman. Nothing creepy or potentially dangerous there? Yeah.

    Maybe we should study CCTV operators in England to make sure that attractive women, or any other category of people, aren't being watched more closely than everyone else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 02, 2014 @10:47PM (#46137401)

    I work with a registered sex-offender. The reason why this guy works for us is because he was grandfathered in before the company started doing background checks, and we don't see a reason to let him go since he is in compliance with the law and does his job really well.

    You can look him up and see his face and everything, again, he's fully compliant. Most importantly, though, we don't hold his past against him because his offense was something like "Intent of Sexual Assault," which is something that any cheating or otherwise regretful whore could have fabricated after leading a man on while in a drunken stupor before her boyfriend found out and gave her an ultimatum.

    Of course, the whole registry thing is simply to convince suburban housewives that evil is always lurking around the corner, and that they should be perpetually afraid of events with little statistical significance. But we're not talking about terrorism, this time.

    -- Ethanol-fueled

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @10:51PM (#46137421)

    Yeah, I could really use this as a prosthetic.

    I can't remember faces, and I have a lot of trouble recognizing them. It's not full-blown prosopagnosia [], but it's a real problem in daily life -- for example, if I run into a familiar co-worker at a grocery store, I'm likely not to recognize them, and I might come across as cold or distant. I compensated by being friendly to everyone, which earned me a reputation for being nice, if a bit spacy. And I can recognize my family, even "picture" them in my mind -- but I couldn't tell you what shape my wife's nose or ears are. Sketching people is right out.

    I'd love to have heads-up subtitles on people, not to be creepy, just to put me on even footing with the rest of the world. If the price is that I have to feed knowledge of who I'm seeing to the Overmind, though, I'm not sure I'd strike the bargain.

  • Re:Great.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @11:03PM (#46137469)

    Great, anther toy encouraging society to regress back to adolescent behavior...with much higher stakes.

    The stakes may be higher than some people think. Over thepast few years, several people I casually know (that is, I only know them by face and first name) have expressed the opinion that the sex offender list is a license to hunt and kill. How many people with similar names are going to get "tagged" by this service?

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @11:25PM (#46137569)

    Prediction: "smart" masks that not only obscure your face but also photorealistically display the face of some other random person.

  • Re:Great.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @11:30PM (#46137593)
    That is obviously what the lists were designed for. The fact that I can check to see if my neighbor is a "Sex Offender", but I can't look up to see if he has eaten babies, bit by bit over the course of months while they were still alive, pretty well proves to me that the list was not about protecting yourself. It was designed as a way issue the death penalty without having to deal with all of the political and judicial red tape.
  • by Peyna (14792) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @11:46PM (#46137677) Homepage

    Most importantly, though, we don't hold his past against him because his offense was something like "Intent of Sexual Assault," which is something that any cheating or otherwise regretful whore could have fabricated after leading a man on while in a drunken stupor before her boyfriend found out and gave her an ultimatum.

    You don't have to justify your non-hate of a convicted sex-offender by downplaying their guilt. It's perfectly acceptable to say that he committed a crime, and has changed his life, and is now a law-abiding citizen. He is still paying part of his debt to society by being a registered sex offender for some period of time.

    Instead of believing that a criminal is capable of change, you instead choose to believe that this particular person was never a criminal in the first place. I'm curious why that is? Is it easier to work next to someone believing they're not actually a registered sex offender?

    So, do me a favor when you return to work: Consider the fact that he may actually be guilty of this crime. That he may have actually done something wrong, and attempted to take advantage of some woman sexually, and that is capable of doing so. Are you still as comfortable working next to him?

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday February 03, 2014 @12:17AM (#46137867)

    In the Biblical quote, its a metaphor for our imperfect knowledge, in contrast to how we will be in Heaven.

    In the Phillip K Dick novel, the main character hopes that all of the high tech government scanners watching him can understand him (see cleary, rather than darkly), because he can't understand himself.

    In the New Yorker article title (which was used for the Slashdot title), it makes no fucking sense and is just intended to reference the Phillip K Dick novel.

    They could have had an interesting tie-in to the title by bringing up that the information you get from such an app probably wouldn't be a good representation of what a person is like. But I didn't see anything like that in the article.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 03, 2014 @06:40AM (#46139161)

    Posting anonymously because I'm going to tell you a crime I committed...

    When I was 19, I had sex with a 15 year old girl. She looked 18 easily; she was at a party where copious amounts of alcohol was consumed by all. We were both drunk, both thought each other were attractive, went to my room, did the horizontal pelvic dance for a bit, and then went our separate ways.

    This kind of behaviour is perfectly common at parties and I don't see that I did anything particularly wrong. It's not realistic to expect me to have asked for ID, and even if I did (and still had a chance to get in her pants afterwards; it's kind of a mood killer), what would stop her showing the same fake she used to buy her booze with?

    Thankfully I was never 'caught', but if I had been, I'd be on the registry as well.

    Is it a GOOD idea to have random sex with strangers at parties? Absolutely not. But it happens. Young people do dumb things. If I'd known she was 15, there's no way I would've done it of course, but given the environment and how she looked, there's no way I would've suspected. As it was, I only found out her age later when someone asked me if I 'banged that school chick'.

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