UK To Build Useless Facial Recognition System

from the tax-dollars-at-work dept

After 9/11, there was a lot of talk about using facial recognition systems in various cities and airports. Even the Superbowl used one to try to spot “bad people” watching the big game. However, within a few years, people began to realize that such facial recognition systems don’t really work for such applications. Facial recognition systems are barely good enough to match two faces in still photos — but when you add in grainy video, different lighting and different angles it doesn’t even come close to being effective. In Tampa, which had been the poster child for facial recognition security systems, the police shut it down after it didn’t catch a single person in two years. Meanwhile, at Boston’s Logan airport, the system was so bad it couldn’t even catch the “tester” criminals they put into the system to see if it was working. With that in mind, you have to wonder why the UK has decided to build a nationwide facial recognition system to try to catch criminals spotted on any of the many, many security cameras found throughout Great Britain. Once again, it seems like the type of system being put in place for politicians to say they’re making things safer, without actually making anyone safer.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “UK To Build Useless Facial Recognition System”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Rikko says:

Re: Re:

Agreed with the first commenter.. Seems a rather Luddite position to take. They said the same about virtually every pioneered technlogy to date.. Techdirt of all places I thought I’d see recognition of this, but apparently not today.

It may be a big task but it’s simply a matter of figuring out the programming. We have the computing power and the knowledge (spread across umpteen disciplines).. Someone just has to be the first to put it together.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Seems a rather Luddite position to take. They said the same about virtually every pioneered technlogy to date..

Not a Luddite position at all. If your gov’t was going to spend millions, if not billions, of dollars on a new technology, shouldn’t there be at least some proof that it works? If the tech is improving, run a small trial somewhere.

JM says:

Re: Re:

The article makes perfect sense. Nobody said give-up on the technology!

Sorry, but too many people bitch about this kind of comment without actually using brain cells. This article plainly states that it’s pointless to launch a system that is well known to be useless under the guise of making people safer. The fact is this technology needs vast improvement and pertending it’s worth spending the money to set up a national infastructure for such a system is, quite frankly, pretty rediculous.

If any of you can point out where in TFA it states we shouldn’t continue to improve the technology my hats off to you…until then, GTFU.

Jason (user link) says:

Improved Tech?

The tech might be the key here. depending on what sort of quid they are going to put into the system. Camera technology has vastly improved, so much so that the high end camera makers have stopped trying to up their megapixel numbers and are focusing on things like light sensitivite and grainy photos from digital cameras. If they are combining the latest camera tech with good programming (that will be rare) then this system could easily be effective. Another potential application they should try to combine with this is a recognition system for license plates on autos. If a vehicle registered to a suspect is parked in the parking lot of a building it is a good place to start looking for them.

anon says:

For those that don't understand

The reason this is stupid isn’t because they are developing technology, but because they are using an infant technology that needs a lot more test work before it is deployed.

Did the Wright brothers create their aircraft, get 50 or 60 people on it knowing it didn’t fly in the test runs, then fall over a cliff with them? No. It was in testing until it worked. Then out came commercial aircraft.

Too many things get put out too early in their life cycle because the government or individuals want to have the appearance of moving us into the bleeding edge of science. I’d personally rather see money spent on tried and true techniques to actually capture criminals while facial recognition is still in the lab.

SuckerPunch-tm says:

Miss the point much

by Posterlogo on May 23rd, 2006 @ 11:18am

It’s not perfected yet. So we should never try. Any thing that doesn’t immediately work should be given up on FOREVER. NEVER. Goddamn wright brothers.

See the gist of where I’m going?

It isn’t about saying to abandon the idea, it’s about the effective use of taxpayers (presumably) money on things that actually work TODAY, not at some indeterminate day somewhere in the unforseeable future.

See the gist of where I’m going?

racing_spirits says:

you guys

you all seem to focus on the technical asoects which, we all know, will be figured out sooner or later. So what if the system will – in one steo – do away with your right to privacy, to be yourself, to go where you want when you want without some camera somewhere watching you.

Shades of 1984, which some of us DO NOT WANT, now or ever.

If you don’t know what 1984 is, go get the book and scare sh*it out of yourself.

kweeket says:

Re: 1984 != 2006 (if we're smart)

In the article, it sounds as if there are already plenty of cameras in public places in the UK already. So your concerns about loss of privacy are a little late.

However, I think privacy is still maintained, since there is no government video surveillance in people’s homes – only public spaces. And public spaces are, by definition, already not private.

BUT I don’t like that the British government seems to be hoarding the information they gather, leading to a scary 1984-esque imbalance of power. Transparency might be a solution to this problem – if everyone is allowed to check the same video feeds to which the police have access, who watches the watchers then? Well….everybody.

JM says:

Re: Nobody here is paranoid?

LOL – have any evidence of this? Let’s just be paranoid all the time because… Oooh the satellite’s are watching!

It’s ok to be somewhat warry but outright paranoia without reason? Where there is evidence to support a reason to be paranoid then call it out. There is no value in paranoia without cause.

von hell says:

political lens

It’s obvious that the reason for dismissing this endeavor is rooted in a political position. The technology mentioned is being used to monitor individuals and provide the government with increased capabilities to capture criminals. Thus the expenditure on the technology is outrageous and the technology hopeless. The predisposition to assume that our politicians simply want to say they are making things safer without actually doing anything, of course reinforces the previous assumptions.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...