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Hullabaloo


Monday, March 19, 2018

 

Future-crime and punishment

by Tom Sullivan


General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) fitted with DB-110 surveillance pod.

Minority Report's PreCrime police unit was science fiction. Or was it?

From The Atlantic:

China is rife with face-scanning technology worthy of Black Mirror. Don’t even think about jaywalking in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. Last year, traffic-management authorities there started using facial recognition to crack down. When a camera mounted above one of 50 of the city’s busiest intersections detects a jaywalker, it snaps several photos and records a video of the violation. The photos appear on an overhead screen so the offender can see that he or she has been busted, then are cross-checked with the images in a regional police database. Within 20 minutes, snippets of the perp’s ID number and home address are displayed on the crosswalk screen. The offender can choose among three options: a 20-yuan fine (about $3), a half-hour course in traffic rules, or 20 minutes spent assisting police in controlling traffic. Police have also been known to post names and photos of jaywalkers on social media.

The system seems to be working: Since last May, the number of jaywalking violations at one of Jinan’s major intersections has plummeted from 200 a day to 20. Cities in the provinces of Fujian, Jiangsu, and Guangdong are also using facial-recognition software to catch and shame jaywalkers.
That's creepy. But what about convenience? What about speeding up train or plane boarding? All well and good unless you're a minority. NPR:
According to a report by the CAPA-Centre for Aviation, face-recognition software "is not so good at identifying ethnic minorities when most of the subjects used in training the technology were from the majority group." Another problem are passengers who are wearing glasses, hats or scarves.

Rudolph says about 4 percent of travelers are wrongly rejected by the system.

Another concern he has: He says privacy protections are nonexistent.
The ultimate cost of convenience is creepier. Again from The Atlantic:
The technology’s veneer of convenience conceals a dark truth: Quietly and very rapidly, facial recognition has enabled China to become the world’s most advanced surveillance state. A hugely ambitious new government program called the “social credit system” aims to compile unprecedented data sets, including everything from bank-account numbers to court records to internet-search histories, for all Chinese citizens. Based on this information, each person could be assigned a numerical score, to which points might be added for good behavior like winning a community award, and deducted for bad actions like failure to pay a traffic fine. The goal of the program, as stated in government documents, is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”
We keep seeing this theme, don't we? Captain America: The Winter Soldier might not have been so far from fact:
Jasper Sitwell: Zola'a algorithm is a program for choosing Insight's targets.

Steve Rogers: What targets?

Jasper Sitwell: You! A TV anchor in Cairo, the Under Secretary of Defense, a high school valedictorian in Iowa City, Bruce Banner, Stephen Strange, anyone who's a threat to HYDRA. Now, or in the future.

Steve Rogers: In the future? How could it know?

Jasper Sitwell: How could it not? The 21st century is a digital book. Zola told HYDRA how to read it. Your bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, emails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores! Zola's algorithm evaluates people's past to predict their future.

Steve Rogers: And what then?

Jasper Sitwell: Oh, my God. Pierce is gonna kill me.

Steve Rogers: What then?

Jasper Sitwell: Then the Insight helicarriers scratch people off the list. A few million at a time.
Which, of course, is silly. The Chinese have are no such things as helicarriers. But Reapers? We got those, and that's how we use them abroad on a smaller scale. But not to worry. When we are not letting Facebook and Cambridge Analytica log psychological profiles of 230 million Americans, here on the home front (Syracuse, New York) we only use Reapers for "wide-area persistence surveillance" to collect "more than 10,000 square miles of imagery per hour":
UTC Aerospace Systems was contracted by the Guard in 2017 to support the installation and assessment of the DB-110 on the 174th Attack Wing's MQ-9 Reaper. Following the first Operational Assessment, the Guard is evaluating long-term solutions to field the next-generation sensor of the DB-110 family, the MS-110, in a new pod that will be compatible with both the MQ-9 Reaper and C-130 Hercules. The MS-110 will produce multispectral color imagery across 7 bands, thereby enhancing the long-range and wide-area attributes of the DB-110. For the Guard, the MS-110 would enhance the service's ability to assess critical infrastructure during poor weather conditions, through smoke and below the surface of the water, while also helping to detect objects against a cluttered background.

"As the most advanced tactical-reconnaissance sensors of their kind, the DB-110 and MS-110 will greatly improve the Air National Guard's ability to carry out its mission of saving lives and providing humanitarian assistance," said Kevin Raftery, vice president of ISR and Space Systems at UTC Aerospace Systems. "The imagery they provide will enable the timely assessment of critical infrastructure such as power plants, energy corridors, roads and highways, and civilian domiciles. Collecting this information rapidly across wide areas and disseminating the data directly to incident commanders will help save lives and property during natural disasters and emergency situations."
And won't that be convenient?

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