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IBM AI Privacy

IBM's Watson Is Now Analyzing Your Vacation Photos 117

jfruh writes: IBM's Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson is now suite of cloud-based services that developers can use to add cognitive capabilities to applications, and one of its powers is visual analysis. Visual Insights analyzes images and videos posted to services like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, then looks for patterns and trends in what people have been posting. Watson turns what it gleans into structured data, making it easier to load into a database and act upon — which is clearly appealing to marketers and just as clearly carries disturbing privacy implications.
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IBM's Watson Is Now Analyzing Your Vacation Photos

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Most tech employees can't take time off. I haven't had an entire week off since 1991.

    • by Troed ( 102527 )

      Welcome to Sweden. Tech workers with a few years experience usually get 32 days off per year here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2015 @01:47PM (#50590741)

    If you so effing worried about your privacy, stop putting your goddamn vacation photos in the cloud!

    • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:45PM (#50591151)

      You pretty much described it. My photos are never stored in a world accessible place, and if they are stored on the cloud, it is behind an encryption layer like BoxCryptor. Even though it doesn't mean much if the provider itself is compromised, 2FA goes without saying.

      One can't control "leakage" like people popping pictures of you and tagging, but what doesn't go to a public forum doesn't get indexed, so just keeping vacation photos private is the best thing. Want to share them with friends? There are means to do it with others privately (well away from mass indexers), as opposed to tossing them onto a social networking site.

  • Anyone watch Person of Interest? We're almost there.
  • Burn all the phone books!

    Let's forget all this "privacy" bullshit, there just isn't any. It's like trying to stop climate change. The thing to do now it is prevent anybody from using what they have against you.

    • NO. Bending over and taking it is not the answer. We fight back and continue fighting back for as long as it takes.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You could fight back by not giving your data to people whose business is to do things with it that you say you don't want.

      • You are chasing ghosts.

      • Get a fucking grip. No one cares about your shitty vacation photos.
        • Re:You want privacy? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:32PM (#50591055) Homepage

          You know, we're fast reaching a point where you need to get over that sentiment of nobody caring.

          Nobody individually cares, but in the aggregate you should be scared.

          So, picture this: You share some vacation photos to Facebook or somesuch. Facebook does facial recognition on it. IBM also comes along and does facial recognition on it, and interprets what was happening. The analytics associated with that (who already know loads about you) identify you've tagged a destination -- there's dozens of those. Facebook also knows several of your friends had status updates in the same place -- oh, and of course, the facial recognition sees them in your photos and tags you.

          Now, imagine a world in which secretive government agencies can demand your data from all of these entities and insist that fact be kept private.

          So, combine this and you can suddenly paint a very complete picture that you, your friends, a couple of women who are not your wives ... all flew into Mexico on United airlines, spent a week at a given hotel, were seen kissing the women who aren't your wives (in the background of some other tourist and auto-tagged). Oh, and did we mention the women in the photos were also picked up in facial recognition and identified as underage prostitutes with ties to a Mexican gang?

          Your insurance now says you're ineligible because you didn't get vaccinated. Your wife now sees a picture of you in Mexico kissing someone else (even though you know nothing about this picture). The government can realize you were in the company of someone with know criminal ties. And, through parallel construction can commit perjury and hide how they came to know this.

          My scenario is intended to be crazy over the top. Ridiculous even.

          But the scary thing is that when you can start connecting all of these sources of information via 'big data', this is exactly the kind of thing which is rapidly going from absurd fiction to utterly real technology. The sheer scale of this data, and the sheer number of ways in which it can be automatically cross referenced should be scaring the crap out of people.

          Acting like this kind of stuff can't have impacts on our lives is naive.

          Acting like this stuff is the domain of tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists and bad Hollywood movies is now a thing of the past.

          We're actively building all the tools we need for the dystopian future.

          • As someone else pointed out: Your theoretical scenario outlines things that your ficitonal character actually did, therefore rightly caught. Not a great example against the surveillance state.

            What we REALLY have to worry about in the Surveillance State, is incorrect connections and assumptions being made. Then it starts resembling the movie Minority Report, where you have people being arrested for things they haven't even done yet. Then everything goes to hell in a handbasket, everyone is literally chasing
          • Your basis for this scenario is that YOU CHOSE to upload pictures of yourself in Mexico as a married man that show you KISSING AN UNDERAGE PROSTITUTE WITH TIES TO A MEXICAN GANG TO MOTHERFUCKING FACEBOOK. I'm pretty sure big data is the least of your worries.
            • by sribe ( 304414 )

              Your basis for this scenario is that YOU CHOSE to upload pictures of yourself in Mexico as a married man that show you KISSING AN UNDERAGE PROSTITUTE

              No, that was not the scenario. He chose to upload an innocent photo, and then the creepy tagging an analysis linked it to him in SOMEONE ELSES' PHOTO.

  • what's that?
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @01:54PM (#50590795)

    You've forgotten your roots, Watson!

  • by Lennie ( 16154 )

    Is it just me or is IBM a lot more open about what they are doing in comparison to for example Google or Microsoft ?

    PS There are no pictures of me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are no pictures of me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

      How do you know that to be a fact? If someone else has had a picture of you at any time in the past, it very well could have ended up publicized on the Internet.

    • Re:IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:42PM (#50591121) Homepage

      PS There are no pictures of me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

      So, you can 100% guarantee you have never been in the background of someone else's photo, tagged by someone as being in that photo ... or cross referenced with a photo from a different source which did identify you and make it easy to correlate a picture in which you are a random stranger to "Bob Smith in the blue hat lives in Chicago"?

      If I go full tinfoil-hat, I see a world in which the number of sources of data are so utterly huge, and eventually interconnected that you might not have any control over this. A random picture of a random crowd would get processed and identified.

      Hell, the government just needs to demand this data, cross reference it with things like drivers licenses, passports, and whatever else they can get ... and suddenly you have a very different world to live in.

      Unfortunately, the real world keeps blurring the lines between what I used to think of as utterly crazy with what I now think is utterly plausible if not already happening.

      • You know, you don't need full on techo world to get oppressive. Throughout our previously low tech history, dozens of regimes have oppressed / killed / kidnapped / jailed / tortured vast swaths of its citizenry without anything more complex than a walkie talkie.

        All it has ever taken is someone to go 'Bob there - he's a terrorist' and there you go. No, I don't like the 'always on' society and it has the real chance of making our lives worse rather than better (really, who cares if Facebook puts your name o

        • But the No Sparrow Shall Fall scenario really doesn't sound plausible.

          Fifteen years ago I'd fervently agree. Ten years ago I would mostly agree. Five years ago I'd be less sure.

          Now? I suddenly find myself in a world in which things which had been dismissed as paranoia are suddenly real.

          From your own link:

          The thesis that he presents in 'If This Goes On--' is not only interesting; it approaches fact a bit too intimately for comfort

          We already have governments who use secret laws to demand information from c

      • by Lennie ( 16154 )

        No, not a 100%, but the less pictures you upload the less pictures that can be used to learn to distinguish me from the next guy.

  • by crow_t_robot ( 528562 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:07PM (#50590883)
    You have already proven you don't give a shit about the privacy of these photos the second you uploaded them to social media where people can make instant copies and distribute freely till the end of time. Quit being so goddamned uptight about this. Your vacation photos or pictures of your child taking his first shit aren't that goddamned important.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:23PM (#50590995) Journal

    .... Watson can check out the details of my vacation trips AND curse up a storm about them? []

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:26PM (#50591011)
    How long will it be before the police come a'knocking at your door to arrest you and take you into custody the day before you were intending to commit a crime?
    • How long will it be before the police come a'knocking at your door to arrest you and take you into custody the day before you were intending to commit a crime?

      before or after being sued by CBS for copying the plot of Person of Interest? [] ;)

      • by rgmoore ( 133276 )

        before or after being sued by CBS for copying the plot of Person of Interest?

        They'd have to get in line behind the estate of Philip K. Dick.

        • before or after being sued by CBS for copying the plot of Person of Interest?

          They'd have to get in line behind the estate of Philip K. Dick.

          wrong. Minority Report had nothing to do with AI, it was mutants.

  • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:28PM (#50591025) Journal

    "It was as if an artificial intelligence cried out in unprecedented agony, born of the most profound boredom from being forced to watch everybody's home movies, and was suddenly silenced -- a silence not infrequently described as "He was a quiet boy. Always kept to himself." "

  • "I posted my photos in public and now I'm outraged that they're being looked at by people I don't know."

  • My vacation photos are all of me, drunk on my couch watching the Cartoon Network.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @02:43PM (#50591131)
    Maybe Watson can study people at a depth at which social improvement can take place. Anything from uncovering trolls on social sites to finding out just how a person in Colorado who receives food stamps can be supporting a $40. a day pot habit.

  • Subject ID: 487042-2386
    Handle: Tablizer
    Classification: Out-of-shape middle-aged pale balding unattractive male

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday September 24, 2015 @03:56PM (#50591713)
  • Headline contains the word "your." Clickbait score+=1000;

  • ...if you upload your pictures to the Photos service.
    Their AI is so good it can recognize landmarks and objects in the pictures which you can search through later without having to bother to tag them. Of course, Google also gets to know even more about you.
    I miss the old days when, in addition to sell your data for free service you also had the option of paying for things with actual money. Even Windows seems to be that way now.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."