Yesterday I went to CeBIT, which is Europe's main IT-Fair. I didn't go alone but with my friends Tsia and Arno; Arno's brother was also there. So we went checking the booths out, a lot of them are more oriented towards IT professionals than people like me (I have to say that Tsia and Arno are IT professionals though). So obviously the first hall we were in was aimed at governments, companies that need security equipment and banks, they had stuff like money counting machines, e-Passport control gates and stuff like that.
Then we came near a booth, which had quite a lot of people in front of it. The first thing I noticed that they demoed a system that scans peoples fingerprints. Many people unreluctantly put their hands on the machine to have their fingerprints scanned, something, which I would have never done with my true fingerprints (if your interested in how to fake fingerprints tell me, maybe that’s some material for a future post). Who knows what the company does with the data - if it somehow would be leaked everyone could go out and commit crimes leaving your fingerprints. So I already thought that was quite scary.
But then I noticed the other thing they had on display: A "visitor management system" as they called it or an "automatic face recognition for CCTV system" as I would have called it, that also can tell you the age, gender and happiness of the people in the picture. They had a camera filming everyone in front of the booth and a big screen displaying the picture overlaid with the analysis of their software. I heard of such systems before and that they might be used to analyze material the police films at demonstrations afterwards. Really scary stuff, as it could be used to very easily identify everyone taking part in a demonstration and also to find out at which other demonstrations or other CCTV-covered places they were filmed. 1984 at it's best.
But notice that I said it could be used. The thing is really it can't be used for anything like that, because well let's say it's in reality very buggy software. It shows you how happy the person is, it's age with a big tolerance, gender, unique id and how long the person has been in the picture. I noticed that my gender jumped from male to female and back all the time and it was the same with the age. The only thing it got right most of the time is my happiness, e.g. it noticed the difference between a smiling and a sad face, but that’s really nothing new, because this technology is already used in customer products like compact digital cameras that shoot a picture when the people in the frame smile. But the best thing was that I could get a new id assigned to my face by shaking my head and hair around a bit. Not that scary, after all.
Keep your privacy safe!
PS: I think technology is neither good nor bad, it's just a tool, like a hammer it can be used to build a house or to hurt people.
PPS: Dermalog if you're reading this, I'd love to test your anti-spoofing technology for fingerprint scanners.
I’m estatic to see a new post, I was going through detriment! I get a charge out of reading your work, I can’t get enough of it.
Well the other day someone posted a sign over the sink in the flat share I live in. It essentially says:
It made me thinking. Not only about the dirty dishes but about why people are different. And really socialization is one of the biggest factors that makes people different. Your socialization is what you learned growing up and living your life, from your peers and your friends, what your parents told you not to do and you decided to do nevertheless.
However what if you want to change, and by change I mean big changes like traveling fulltime, deliberately living of unemployment benefits (which is possible in Germany) or dying your hair blue. Stuff that most of your peers wouldn't agree with, not even to speak of your parents or even grandparents. We'll it can be hard but it doesn't have to be.
When I was a young boy, I observed a curious phenomenon. At some point in our childhood, my little sister decided she didn’t like playing competitive games any more. If luck was involved, like a board game where you roll dice, that was fine. If there was a heavy skill element involved, she would only play if we were evenly matched. The only exception to this rule I could find was Super Mario Kart, where I went easy on her because we both enjoyed the game so much.
Everything else was out though - any game of skill or sporting activity. I had loads of two-player computer games and no one to play with most of the time. It was frustrating, and as a child the only reason I could think of to explain her behaviour was her gender. Sometimes I called her boring, and told her I wished I had a brother instead - what awful behaviour! This never bothered her. Boys were/are smelly, apparently.
So, I played lots of computer games alone. Some of them I got really good at. In university, I live with four other blokes, one of whom I’d known since a very early age. Playing computer games daily was standard practice, and the competition could get pretty heated. The four-player football games had an element of randomness in them, and we all enjoyed those because they provided the most controversy.
When it came to one-on-one games, such as Street Fighter, I noticed a familiar pattern with my close friend. When the game was new and we were all learning, he’d play as much as everyone else. Being compulsive, at some point I’d put in more hours practice, understand the concepts better, and soon enough my wins would become consistent. As soon as he felt he no longer had a snowballs chance of beating me, he’d drop the game like a stone. This would happen even if it was a game he owned, no matter how much he appeared to be enjoying it prior.