Forget Detecting Gunshots, This Camera Detects If You Just Act Violently

from the you-have-no-privacy-anywhere dept

Following the story from yesterday about sensors that can spot gunfire (which was actually old news), Search Engines WEB writes in to let us know about a new camera system being developed by researchers to automatically spot violent behavior. They claim this is different than cameras being developed and tested to simply spot suspicious behavior by looking for basic patterns. They note that such a system can often have trouble separating out certain situations. For example, they suggest that their system can tell the difference between someone offering another person a stick of gum vs. someone threatening a person with a knife — which they claim a traditional system would view as looking pretty much the same. Currently, the system is only 80% accurate and the researchers admit it has certain limitations — but they expect it to improve pretty rapidly over the next few years, especially as the technology gets commercialized. Of course, it will be interesting to see how people respond to such things. While you pretty much can’t go anywhere these days without having surveillance cameras watching you, an awful lot of what those cameras catch is never watched or used. However, systems that can capture and analyze specific activities begin to raise many more questions. Instead of just mining consumer databases, will we be hearing stories about politicians targeting pitches to voters based on what a collection of surveillance cameras says about them?

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Comments on “Forget Detecting Gunshots, This Camera Detects If You Just Act Violently”

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chris stewart says:


the problem is just that people collect a lot more data than they’ll ever be able to view or analyze without the help of computers. then, when people find out that they’re basically being WATCHED by computers, they freak out, because they’ve got “1984” playing in their head. people need to realize that change isn’t always bad, and neither is technology.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: fear

Change is life. Technology is the result of change. These are facts and can’t be debated. What I see as the issue is what we choose to do with the technology we create.

Computers “watching” me doesn’t necessarily bother me. What does bother me is my life activities being stored and data-mined to track my behavior like a lab rat. That is my personal life and nobody has the right to micro-analyze it. That’s a blatant invasion of my privacy and completely disrespectful of my human dignity.

Oldude59 (user link) says:

You better be good - we're watching you

Between the pills that fix your behavior to eyes watching from everywhere – the notion of “odd” is losing all its meaning. What seems to be happening is unholy allianance is taking shape to produce “dull”. Yes we all want to be safe and we want it done without our having to notice the bad people be escourted from our space. But what use to be odd is now the terrorist looking to kills or foriegner taking our tax dollars or simply “that” person that does not belong near us. I’m glad I’m one of those that still see “oddness” for it market value – as patient – as friend – as me!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You better be good - we're watching you

I’m so sick of this terrorist shit. We’re doing exactly what they want… scare the majority of sheeple in this country into believing that the only way to protect their freedom is to lock themselves up. Fucking brainless. Life is harsh. Sorry people you know died. Deal with it. It’s gonna happen to you too. Live well while you can and quit being a bunch of spineless, whiny, scared and souless fucks.

Daniel (user link) says:


it would be interesting to analyse “protest” (or “riot”) footage to see if you can pinpoint ringleaders before any violence erupts. if it can detect violent behaviour then it could be used to help the police track known troublemakers.

imagine scanning a football crowd after a riot, then pinpointing who and where the trouble started, these people could be banned from the grounds which would hopefully stop any further problems getting out of hand.

the possibilities of this are awesome, and also awsomely worrying, like a real world minority report you could be tagged as an offender before you actually do anything.

still its all just conjecture till the software gets better.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: interesting

Following the situation you just described, Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been thrown in jail a long, long time before his movement started to pick up steam, and we would still be living with segregation in the US.

What scares me is the slide into complacency. As soon as someone questions the governments motives or starts to act upset, Bush just points up in the sky and screams “Terrorist!” and everyone just goes on about their business. Luckily, this is starting to change now. People seem to be not rolling over every time he says terrorist. Still, this should have happened years ago, and I’m afraid we’ve lost too many liberties in the years of complacency.

alittlelessstupidplease says:

I had a dream last night...

That I had made a large amount of money from revenue made by a few decent, honest patents of mine and used that money to buy a few hundred square miles in Indiana or some place like that. I essentially succeded from the US as a social experiment to try to run a government with common sense, few laws and a system similiar to points on a license for the legal system. As well as a reformed patent system.

Yes I have dreams that detailed and it was great until the “shadow government” bombed it.

Sooo…anyone wanna move out west to a TechDirt nation?

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s funny. however much we “do stuff” to not let the terrorists win, the closer to their goal they become.

they don’t want america to be free. they despise our ways. they despise our lack of “control” however by their attacks, and the “fear power” we gave to the gov’t, we successfully accomplished the terrorists goals. isn’t terrorism supposed to cause dramatic changes for “fear” of a biased attack? isn’t that what is happening in america? i think so. it’s time to stop the whole, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you should have no problem being monitored. it’s time to step up, and work as we did pre 9/11. hell…preclinton. (i wonder what regan would have done)

A.J. (user link) says:

Relax, stop reading into EVERYTHING

wow, everyone’s overreacting about this. No where does it say that this technology is meant to be a full proof technology that will be used everywhere and will replace humans. Just because we have technology to detect certain behavior doesn’t mean the entire US is going to be covered in surveylence cameras analyzing every single step we take, filing it in different categories and automatically convicting you of crimes you didn’t do.

In fact, this would allow for the opposite. Imagine active cameras that turn on and off based on pattern detection. Innocent person pushing a stroller down the street? You don’t get recorded. Pull out a knife and start running? Camera turns on and watches you.

Not only would this increase the effectiveness of a surveliance camera (we all see the movies where the security guard gets distracted and misses what’s on the camera), but it would restore _some_ privacy while maintaining the safety benefits of surveillance.

Anonymous Coward says:

if you havnt done anything wrong, you should have no problem being monitored.

so your saying that anyone who has a problem being monitored is automaticly doing something wrong. are we going to start writting arrest warrants for precrime behavior now? if I go to kick my little brother as a joke, will I receive an automatic assault conviction for the “basic pattern” of my acts?

what if I I dont want to be taped and computer monitored 24/7? do I have the right to refuse the cameram mounted on my ceiling (in a few years of this progression) becausxe, after all, its for Safety, and only someone with something to Hide would disagree..

Trouble Maker says:

two cents worth

Why don’t we just all get RFID tags implanted under the skin just below the left ear…and if the monitoring software system detects improper actions it can send a electrical charge into the base of our spine rendering us immobile until the state thought police show up and haul us off to convert the socially unacceptable into soylent green.

Pâté de bad-guy

mousepaw says:

nothing wrong - no problem

I don’t know why I always find myself agreeing with Anonymous Coward.

Ontario has insituted a “privacy policy.” Ha. This means that whoever calls you to talk to you about anything (from a blocked phone number, I might add) has the right to question you about who you are before they move forward in the conversation. I tell them to call back from a number that identifies the company from which they are calling and I’ll be happy to supply finger-prints and or mug shots, if necessary.

Not only that but some utility companies are in the habit of needing to know who your landlord is, where they live and their telephone number. If you don’t comply, it’s recorded and may affect your level of cooperative customer service. Every single phone call a company makes these days, is recorded, under the aegis of improving customer service, thanks to our new privacy laws.

We have cameras at intersections called “red light” cameras to catch people running lights. Tell me that a hacker couldn’t make use of that or any other camera system.

I feel I should have the right to personal privacy as a default. I’m not doing anything wrong but I really hate the idea that unknown people are watching me, from who knows where and doing who knows what with my info. It’s just a matter of time before it becomes “personally identifiable” info, easily connected to my internet tendencies, tv watching tendencies, bank tendencies and any other tendencies that are trackable now.

Finally, as with most ideas, they aren’t in themselves necessarily right or wrong, it’s the people who have the power to decide which way it’s going to go who ultimately form the distinction of good/bad, right or wrong. And they we pay and pay and pay…

Anonymous Coward says:

We won’t see a camera capable of analysing actions reliably for at least another decade.

It’s not the failure to recognize a crime that’s the problem; it’s the mis-recognition of benign actions. A camera on a streetcorner will monitor.. lets say one ‘action’ or gesture every five seconds, sixteen hours a day. That’s conservative, I think. That’s 11,520 daily ‘actions’ it needs to correctly classify. Even if it has an accuracy rate of 99.99%, it will generate a false positive every day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, its no wonder that a generation raised in day care, wouldn’t mind being monitroed 24×7.

The complacent attitudes are stunning. Are we all going to just stand by and watch as our freedoms are stolen?

Sadly, by the time people are too fed up, if that EVER happens, it will be too late.

Where are the terrorists? Are they coming from the Middle East? Or are they comming from your TV, Radios, and the “Internets”, being projected from DC. Fear is a great motivator. How much are you willing to sacrifice for your safety? Do you have any less fear now?

Oh well…

“A Scanner Darkly”

misanthropic humanist says:

Terrible waste of resources

“What I see as the issue is what we choose to do with the technology we create.”

You have no choice, that’s the point. Technological control does not belong to the people until such time as the people rise up and take back that control. Right now it is in the hands of terrorists (the government – see a dictionary for a correct definition of “terrorist”) who have one agenda, absolute control and subjugation through fear.

Sure, technology can achieve fine things, transport, medicine, agriculture and energy. We can do amazing things.

What a shame to squander so much effort on disturbing social control. The Soviets failed, and we will fail too, because despite the fascists wet dreams technology never can offer what they want.

Smart criminals will always outwit the system, while pervasive technological control and opression will eventually alienate people from their state and police and lead ordinary people towards rebellion and sabotage of the system as a virtuous activity.

Just think of the amazing utilitarian benefits if this research time and money was used towards beneficial technology instead of lining the pockets of a few “security” companies.

Ny (user link) says:

Scanning brainwaves

How do you feel about this prediction about surveillance hi-tech a few decades from now.

‘x-ray-like cctv’ cameras that will be ultra sensitive to certain brain wave patterns – and detect that based on statistical probably – some one is predisposed towards certain types of behaviour based on the brain energy being transimitted….

Thereby, offering reasonablle suspiscion to further question, detain or search this person.

The technology of a few decades will probably make todays surveillance hi tech a cheap throwaway child’s toy.

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