A whole new not-you


This is how crazy the world is. Designer Adam Harvey’s goal is to make your face unrecognizable by surveillance software:

His CV Dazzle designs for hair and makeup obscure the eyes, bridge of the nose and shape of the head, as well as creating skin tone contrasts and asymmetries. Facial-recognition algorithms function by identifying the layout of facial features and supplying missing info based on assumed facial symmetry. The project demonstrates that a styled “anti-face” can both conceal a person’s identity from facial recognition software (be it the FBI’s or Facebook’s) and cause the software to doubt the presence of a human face, period.

Click through to see some of the wild makeup and hair for foiling surveillance cameras and facial recognition programs. Some of the info in this Raw Story post might be a year old or so old, but it’s new to me. And not surprising. I grew up watching dystopian science fiction movies. Now it feels as if I’m living in one. Would rather not have my eyeballs replaced, thanks.

David Atkins has written here before about how technology will, inevitably, eliminate jobs as automation takes over. Self-driving cars, etc. The challenge is what to do with people who have become obsolete. In a lengthy article on Big Data turning people into a data source the way the Matrix turns them into a power source, Jacob Silverman writes at Salon:

This situation won’t be completely remedied by more aggressive regulation, consumer protections, and eliminating tax breaks. Increasing automation, fueled by this boom in data collection and mining, may lead to systemic unemployment of a kind we’ve never seen. Those contingent workers laboring for tech companies through Elance or Mechanical Turk will soon enough be replaced by automated systems. It’s clear that, except for an elite class of managers, engineers, and executives, human labor is seen as a problem that technology can solve. In the meantime, those whose sweat this industry still relies upon find themselves submitting to exploitative conditions, whether as a Foxconn worker in Shenzhen or a Postmates courier in San Francisco. As one Uber driver complained to a reporter: “We have a real person performing a function, not a Google automatic car. We have become the functional end of the app.” It might not be long before he is traded in for a self-driving car. They don’t need breaks, they don’t worry about safety conditions or unions, they don’t complain about wages. Compared to a human being, automatic cars are perfectly efficient.

And who will employ him then? Who will be interested in someone who’s spent a few years bouncing between gray-market transportation facilitation services, distributed labor markets, and other hazy digital makework? He will have no experience, no connections, and little accrued knowledge. He will have lapsed from subsistence farming in the data fields to something worse and more desultory—a superfluous machine.

When that happens, will Big Data even care what superfluous machines “like” on Facebook?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Popular Culture, Science

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