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China Government Privacy

A Wanted Man in China Has Been Caught Because of Facial Recognition Software (fastcompany.com) 146

An anonymous reader writes: The man was reportedly caught after facial recognition software running on cameras at a concert identified him, reports AbacusNews. That's despite there being over 50,000 people attending the concert, which took place in Nanchang, China. Law enforcement in the country has increasingly been turning to facial recognition software to surveil the public for persons of interest.
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A Wanted Man in China Has Been Caught Because of Facial Recognition Software

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2018 @12:10PM (#56425065)

    I thought all Asians looked alike

    • who knew?
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @04:24PM (#56426999)

      I thought all Asians looked alike

      Asians think caucasians all look alike. Your brain adjusts to the variation in the types of faces you see on a daily basis. If all your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances are white, you will have difficulty discriminating between Asian faces. And vice versa.

      I live in San Jose, California, which is about 35% Asian, so when I go to Asia I have no problem recognizing individual faces.

      • Asians think caucasians all look alike. Your brain adjusts to the variation in the types of faces you see on a daily basis.

        There is far less genetic variation among East Asians than there is among Caucasians.

        • There is far less genetic variation among East Asians than there is among Caucasians.
          And how exactly do you come to that absurd idea?

          • There is far less genetic variation among East Asians than there is among Caucasians.
            And how exactly do you come to that absurd idea?

            I can't find a clear citation that East Asians have less diversity than Caucasians, but they certainly have less diversity than Africans.

            Humanity's origin appears to be in the Rift Valley region of East Africa. There have been many migrations out of that region, each going through a genetic chokepoint that reduced diversity. The branches, from most genetic divergence from the core region (presumably because of an earlier departure) to the least:

            1. San people of the Kalahari.
            2. Pygmies of the Congo rainf

          • Human migration (or lack thereof); it's really not complicated.

            And if you'd done any reading on the subject, you'd know that those with the least genetic variation of all are the Japanese, due to having little contact with the outside world for thousands of years.

            • Well,
              the ideas who moved from where to where and what was settled when change every few years.
              E.g. that japan is to isolated can not really be hold up. They traveled to China and Korea since millennia.
              And they have a strong intermixing with the settler waves or invaders that reached them.
              That is probably true for every area of the world.

              Really isolated would probably be people like the Inuit, some in the high regions of the Himalaya or Aleuts etc.

          • It's well known that Europeans have less genetic variation than Africans, possibly due to a population bottleneck during the ice age, so I don't see why the suggestion is absurd.

            • It is actually not well known.
              And on the first glance, I have no idea on what base that would be possible. How would you even measure it?

      • Asians think caucasians all look alike.

        Quite some years ago, I saw Chinese-American actress Rosalind Chao on The Tonight Show. She shared an anecdote about a family reunion she attended back in China. She said she kept getting introduced to relatives she couldn't tell apart - she thought everyone there looked alike!

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Reality is 'they all look alike', is inherently racist and prejudiced, full stop. They all look alike because you pay less attention to their appearance, they are not individuals, they are one of them, the them bit is what ever can be used to make them stand out to isolate them, to give you a competitive advantage over all of them. Guilt also plays a part, you no longer recognising them as individuals, just a lesser group, you don't want to recognise them individually and associate your poor behaviour with

        • Reality is 'they all look alike', is inherently racist and prejudiced, full stop.

          Bullcrap. Reality is that people have a hard time discriminating between faces when none of them are similar to what they are used to. That isn't "prejudice", it is just a fact.

          I grew up in Tennessee, and first went to Asia as an 18 year old Marine. I had met very few Asians while growing up, and I had difficulty telling them apart despite trying hard to do so. When I left a year later, I could recognize Asian individuals easily, and I was on a first name basis with several dozen locals (in Henoko, Okin

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @12:19PM (#56425157)
    They told us time and again that the cameras they put everywhere were too high up to be used for facial recognition.
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      They told us time and again that the cameras they put everywhere were too high up to be used for facial recognition.

      The Chinese government told you that?

      Did they send you a certified letter, or just drop by your house to announce it over tea?

      Since when did the Chinese government care about your privacy concerns, one way or the other, even enough to lie about their intentions?

    • I thought the Chinese's explicitly said they were using face tracking on a massive scale. Perhaps you are thinking about other countries that lie about what they do with surveillance cameras.

    • They told us time and again that the cameras they put everywhere were too high up to be used for facial recognition.

      Who said that and when? They just had a show on one of the magazine shows on TV about the latest gen cameras installed at our city football stadium. They are mounted on the flood-light poles and have enough resolution to do facial recognition of every person on the opposite grandstand (ie 20000+ people). They showed the demo on TV and said they're already using it to remove known hooligans who already have bans from previous offences. The surveillance state is already here.

  • And? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Imazalil ( 553163 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @12:23PM (#56425209)

    Are things so bad that 'works as advertised' is worthy of a news story?

    If only those 50,000 people attending the concert would have to go through some kind of a gate system by which they would trickle through making it easy to identify then a handful at a time. I'm sure someone much smarter than me will figure out such a system, they might even realize they could use it to see if people should be allowed in at the same time. Maybe give out tokens or tickets or something. Or go all web 2.0 and use one of them new-fangled "app" things.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by barc0001 ( 173002 )

      It's worthy of a news story because the environment that this facial recognition did its job in and "worked as advertised" is a massively challenging problem for this type of system. It's also worthy of a news story because it is a harbinger of more to come like this, and not just in China. As this tech gets better, agencies will be able to track everyone's movements in public 24/7 and store all of it for unknown purposes. Today it's criminals, tomorrow it's people on no fly lists (rightly or wrongly) ge

      • How is this a massively challenging problem? You are uploading pictures of faces and doing facial recognition matches against a database of faces? Do you think this is the first system?
        • Because faces do not contain serial numbers. Instead, many different features that change subtly over time, and look different from different angles and lighting. Matching all those fuzzy stats to a large database is not at all trivial. For every face there will be thousands that look almost identical in a database containing millions.

          And I suspect not really possible. I suspect that they used other things like cell phones to reduce the set of possibilities, and then use the facial recognition as the

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @12:27PM (#56425263)

    riots are in part encouraged by the perceived lack of consequences to any individual in the riot due to there being too many people.

    camera shutter clicks...

    Face Rec scrubs image after image... wide angel shots...

    police marquee select clouds of names for people standing in the "wrong" area... names get court summons sent to their registered addresses.

    To this people say "masks"... sure masks... I'm sure the police have no solution for that idea.

    Given that the bike lock guy was found, I'd take that very lightly.

    We need more peaceful protests... sit ins... something you really can't get in trouble for... the violent aggressive stuff is toxic. And in the end, society at large won't be on your side when the hammer comes down.

  • Wanted for murder or a parking ticket?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Yes.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      For that, you not only have to RTFA, but then click on the links in TFA to where they get their info from to finally get an answer:

      He had been on a police watchlist for “economic crimes” -- a broad term that can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property.

    • It doesn't matter. As a law abiding citizen if I break any laws it's by accident. If I knew with a 100% certainty that I'd get a speeding ticket if I exceeded the speed limit then I'd aim to go 10 under the speed limit instead of 10 over.

      I know it sounds draconian but right now there's a gamble with all crimes; there's a chance you'll get away with it. The chance of getting away with speeding is much higher then that of robbing a bank or murder. If facial recognition makes it much harder to get away with an

    • Setting an example. It's far more efficient scaring people into hiding because they think they might be wanted for something. Whether they are even wanted isn't important.
    • For being rated too low on social media.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Very impressive that the software is able to distinguish one Chinese person from another. This ability has eluded humans for eons.

  • by gumpish ( 682245 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @01:01PM (#56425617) Journal

    Setting aside the facial recognition component of the story, is the the first time mass surveillance has actually resulted in the apprehension of a fugitive? England is covered with cameras but you never hear stories about them doing any good.

    • England is covered with cameras but you never hear stories about them doing any good.

      Are you sure? Even for those terrorists planting bombs?

    • England is covered with cameras but you never hear stories about them doing any good.

      That's what you call observer bias. There are plenty of stories of them doing good. Hell nearly 10 years ago they were arresting and charging upwards of 2000 people a year based on CCTV footage alone.

      Now whether you believe the stories or not is a different question. And that may be called conspiracy theories.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Setting aside the facial recognition component of the story, is the the first time mass surveillance has actually resulted in the apprehension of a fugitive? England is covered with cameras but you never hear stories about them doing any good.

      "Surveillance" catches criminals all the time. However a lot of surveillance is from private cameras, I.E. the murder of Jill Meagher in Australia was caught due to a CCTV camera pointing our of a shop window. The item of note here is the use of face recognition software.

  • between cash going away and this kind of tracking petty crime is more or less going to become impossible. I suppose you could mug me for my shoes (my cell phone gets shut off if you steal it). But unless I'm wearing $300 Nikes what's the point?

    What's funny is that even as crime rates plummet the "Tough on Crime" politics don't go away. Not sure about China, but a recent poll showed Crime was the #2 concern for Americans, only topped by health care.
  • I'm more concerned when unwanted men get caught.

  • Could just be a scare tactic by the government. Otherwise why show your hand? Use it to your advantage as long as possible before people find a way to hide from it.
  • Joseph Goebbels is dancing in his grave. But who am I to complain. After all, just like everyone else I'm carrying a Televisor around with me. The upgraded version.

  • I wonder how many innocent people get caught up in this bullshit?
  • we'll be hearing a lot of 'good' news from these facial recognition camera's in china in the next few months.
    just to prove how good they are making the world a safer, nicer place to live in.
    don't expect them to tell you what other privacy invading things they are doing with it.

  • Let's say the system didn't work ie. doesn't recognize faces in _real_ time.
    Would they admit that?
    Nope. Fake it with an actor. Put the fear of god (or cameras) in to people.
    And in future when someone gets caught, comb the video records for pictures of the person and claim they were caught _because_ of the video.
    Ultimately the system might be useful for retroactive evidence just as those systems are now but instilling a belief that they are 'real time' is a good way to prevent crime in the first place.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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