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Big Brother gets a boost from bleeding edge technology

President Barack Obama wants to trim defense spending.  Former Mass. Governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wants to bump the defense budget.  But one thing both agree on funding is funding the U.S. National Intelligence Agency's (NIA) ambitious facial recognition bid, which along with other advanced identification efforts, currently has been earmarked $1B USD in Congressional funding.

I. Facial Recognition is Now

Much of the funding goes to researchers working at Pittsburgh, Penn.'s Carnegie Mellon University.  By 2010, CMU reported [PDF] to Congress that it could pick out a person's face out of a database of 1.6m mug shots approximately 92 percent of the time.  While that high success rate did require the target be looking at the camera, Marios Savvide's lab is working to improve the algorithms so they can recognize faces at other angles too -- even if the person is looking away.

Using a 3D model of the face, the CMU algorithms render expected images from various angles for comparison.  Currently, the biggest challenge is lighting.  Results can be improved by augmenting the visible light data with infrared camera images -- but infrared cameras are expensive, and are relatively rare at public locations.

FBI tracking
The FBI is spending hundreds of millions in an effort to track U.S. citizens in public and on the internet, using advanced facial recognition. [Image Source: Hang the Bankers]

CMU researcher Alessandro Acquisti in July testimony [PDF] before the U.S. Senate told the legislators, "FACE recognition is 'now'."

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is indeed looking to roll the technology out as part of its Next Generation Identification (NGI) program. The program will also add other biometric identification technologies, including iris scans, DNA analysis, and voice identification.

Interpol -- an international policing body -- has long maintained a similar database to target high profile criminals such as international thieves, terrorists, and child sex predators.

But the new NGI effort, to be rolled out nationwide by 2014, represents the first effort to create a database of images of all criminal offenders in America.  Some states already have begun to upload their photos at the program's kickoff in February.  Currently the FBI's publicly announced plans have been limited to facial recognition on criminals.

II. Fighting Crime, or "Big Brother is Watching YOU"?

However, the FBI has also hinted that it might add photos of individuals under investigation, or individuals who appeared near high-profile persons of interest to the database.  The latter prospect has privacy advocates most alarmed, as it could land you on "Big Brother's database" without a single criminal act.

In fact, the FBI appears to be doing exactly that already, as some states now pass drivers' license headshots to the agency for future reference/screening.  The ambiguity surrounding photographic databases and facial recognition of law-abiding citizens has advocacies very upset.

Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Jennifer Lynch told the publication New Scientist that her nonprofit advocacy is concerned that the FBI is creeping towards civilian photographic databases with these efforts.  And Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union comments, "Once you start plugging this into the FBI database, it becomes tantamount to a national photographic database."

Big Brother is watching
The FBI has bipartisan support for developing facial recognition algorithms and databases to spot U.S. citizens -- regardless of whether they're criminals. [Image Source: Djibnet]

The prospect is a frightening one for several reasons.  First, some fear it could lead to an escalation in the "war on drugs", which already is responsible for the U.S.'s world leading imprisonment rate.  Second, some fear that it is a step towards an Orwellian system of crackdown on dissenters; after all, the trademark of George Orwell's iconic 1984 was "Big Brother is watching you."  Finally, such systems could easily lead to micro-scale abuses without sufficient transparency and regulation; for example an agent could potentially use the system to stalk an ex.

In short, there are many questions to be asked.  But Congress and the intelligence agencies are leaning towards pushing the program now, and shelving answers to those questions for a later date.  With the majority leadership of both parties on a federal level eager to expand domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens and throwing money at the objective, the plans are poised to rapidly escalate over the next couple years.

Sources: U.S. Senate, New Scientist

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RE: Convenient America
By TSS on 9/11/2012 4:31:51 AM , Rating: 3
Great post but it has one critical error.

It seems to allude to some time in the future, while i believe the end is already here.

Bipartisan support for $1 billion in domestic spying while those same parties couldn't agree on $1,2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years - while you're running a $1,2 trillion yearly deficit.

The fiscal cliff, a perfect storm of measures that when expire will knock US GDP down to -4%, arriving at the same time as a new debt ceiling debate, during a lame duck congress and president, And if we're lucky, a democratic controlled senate with a republican controlled house, the exact same situation that created the cliff in the first place.

An expense of $454 billion of interest on the national debt, after 4 years of negative interest rates (5 year TIPS is at -1,47%). With more then 50% of US debt being 3 years or shorter, that number was achieved once before, in 2008. $451 billion on interest after 2 years of 5% interest rates and 2 years of steady hikes. the national debt was $10 trillion in 2008, ~$14 trillion in 2011, $16 trillion in 2012 and growing.

Then again, maybe inflation will take care of that, since $16 trillion in 2012 was only $15 trillion in 2008. Did you know that if there was a foreign currency now as strong as the dollar was in 1913 before the fed was created, They could pay off your $16 trillion with just $691,389,063,482 of their money, or less then you spend on social security each year? Gotta love inflation.

Then again, social security might drag you down seeing as it's already costing more money then it takes in, an event not foreseen untill 2018 but it was spent sooner. It's now completly filled with $2,6 trillion worth of treasuries. Actually, considering those are being rolled over as much as possible and US treasuries run at negative real rates, it means the social security fund is also bleeding money and will require even more money.

Did i mention the stock markets are controlled by machines? Litteraly. Look: . That's 1 millisecond. The average human response time is 200 milliseconds (meaning that's how fast you can hit a button).

Learned today that Obama shut down both yucca mountain and nuclear reprocessing, so now nuclear waste is just being held onsite with no longterm plans what so ever. Gotta spend more billions on solar companies though!

According to the WEF's global competitive's report, The US infrastructure is about as good as Qatar's, Saudi Arabia's or Malaysia's overall, and requires an additional $2,2 trillion in investment just to get it back up to properly maintained, along with more investments over the next decade.

Also flipping through the charts to find that info i saw the US, in "irregular payments and bribes", is lower then spain. Which gave me a chuckle. You do know that countries better then you include Portugal, Cyprus, Slovenia, Rwanda, Botswana. You rank 42nd. ,page 394.

Actually that report is full of gems. Judicial independance, as good as south africa. Favoritism by politicians, Tied with Etheopia. Wastefullness of govenment spending, 66th, tied with frickin Iran and lower then syria, pre-arab spring. And those are just the next 3 charts, out of 100+!

The labor participation rate meanwhile has fallen to 63,5%, or just as high as it was in 1979. So when you calculate unemployment off that number instead of the "Seasonally adjusted" official number, taking into account the population has risen, Unemployment wouldn't be the official 8,1% but a more probable 11,7%. And still rising. That also neatly shows you how hard the data is being manipulated (in the competitiveness report, transparency of government policy making the US is 50th, china is 41st).

I could go on and on. How is this not The End of the US? How could it possibly get worse, yet still work? I'd say you have untill january 1st 2013 until it becomes appearant the end has already come and gone, so prepare accordingly. IMO, if you can, get out and get out now. Otherwise get some gold/silver and a gun, while it's still legal to do so.

RE: Convenient America
By Jeffk464 on 9/11/2012 10:00:11 AM , Rating: 2
Uhm, I think you have it wrong the machines don't manipulate the stock market. Wallstreet completely controls congress, who only listen to the people when they absolutely have to.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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