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FBI Unveils $1 Billion Facial Recognition System

By - Source: New Scientist | B 37 comments

Fingerprinting is so yesterday.

The FBI is reportedly about to implement a nationwide face recognition system that is designed to upgrade the Bureau's fingerprint database and help fight crime. The Next Generation Identification (NGI) program comes at a cost of $1 billion and is scheduled to be operational in 2014.

The basic feature set is to immediately scan mugshots for matches in a database, but the system is also capable of taking pictures of people in a crowd and using them against a database, or using publicly available pictures for scans. In effect, the system is evolutionary of the fingerprint data base held by the FBI today. It would be reasonable to assume that this system will be widely deployed and used even in rather unsuspecting environments of the DOJ's Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which today relies solely on fingerprints of immigrants.

According to an article published by New Scientists, the algorithm used by the software was able to pick the right person in a mugshot comparison 92 percent of the time. The image pool of the FBI held about 1.6 million images at the time of this evaluation, which happened in 2010.

It is also reasonable to assume that there will be some form of protest against this database and imaging system if the idea expands to public surveillance cameras and eventually targets everyone. As much as someone may argue that the system improves our safety, an omnipresent surveillance is creepy and very reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984.

 

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    icepick314 , September 11, 2012 3:14 PM
    and it's defeated by $5 novelty plastic mustache glasses...
  • 16 Hide
    outlw6669 , September 11, 2012 3:15 PM
    92% accurate, 8% rate of false identification.
    Yeup, no chance that this will cause any issues....
  • 11 Hide
    beardguy , September 11, 2012 3:44 PM
    F'ing waste of taxpayer money. So long to another piece of freedom.

    News flash: This system will be abused.
Other Comments
    Display all 37 comments.
  • 10 Hide
    dextermat , September 11, 2012 2:45 PM
    FBI should write a book: How to waste 1 billion of tax payers money.... even if technology is cool!
  • -4 Hide
    xurwin , September 11, 2012 3:00 PM
    why not pour it all on the R&D department and make some cool batman or james bond kind of items. that would be pretty sweet and helpful of course. they could make a Batman to save almost everybody. 1billion is alot of cash though
  • -4 Hide
    TeraMedia , September 11, 2012 3:07 PM
    Great. Now we'll have to watch a sequel with Shia LeBoeuf running all over the countryside, unwittingly helping execute a plot to kill people. Except this time, it won't be the Air Force's system but rather the FBI's.

    Now if they connect this technology up to peoples' camera phones, that could be truly scary. Who needs a tinfoil hat when you can wear a prosthetic nose.
  • 20 Hide
    icepick314 , September 11, 2012 3:14 PM
    and it's defeated by $5 novelty plastic mustache glasses...
  • 16 Hide
    outlw6669 , September 11, 2012 3:15 PM
    92% accurate, 8% rate of false identification.
    Yeup, no chance that this will cause any issues....
  • -4 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 11, 2012 3:25 PM
    outlw666992% accurate, 8% rate of false identification.Yeup, no chance that this will cause any issues....

    That is still 92% more effective than an un-fingerprinted terrorist that we have a photo of
  • 8 Hide
    outlw6669 , September 11, 2012 3:27 PM
    back_by_demandThat is still 92% more effective than an un-fingerprinted terrorist that we have a photo of

    Until they shave/grow a beard or put on glasses, makeup, etc.....
  • 5 Hide
    jellico , September 11, 2012 3:31 PM
    Hmmm.... so, I'm thinking Scamble Suits ala Philip K. Dick's novel, A Scanner Darkly.
  • 9 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 11, 2012 3:34 PM
    So if this is rolled out in airports, does that mean the FBI will have a database of anyone using air travel? Exactly how many people do you think will be placed into a crime database without permission or knowledge in just 12 months? A bit of searching says about 48% of Americans travel by air each year, so about 150 million
    ...
    Yeah, that database is going to get real busy, especially when you add all the foreign travellers coming in every year for holidays / business / blowing up skyscrapers etc
    ...
    Funny they announced it on 9/11, just to remind us they are doing something useful
  • 4 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 11, 2012 3:37 PM
    outlw6669Until they shave/grow a beard or put on glasses, makeup, etc.....

    I'm sure if all it took to fool a billion dollar facial recognition software was a liberal application of lipstick or growing a moustache they wouldn't have even announced it
    ...
    Tell you what, grow a moustache then rob a post office, then shave it off and see if you can fool the system, I dare ya
  • 3 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , September 11, 2012 3:38 PM
    outlw6669Until they shave/grow a beard or put on glasses, makeup, etc.....


    They won't shave the beard ;) 
  • 11 Hide
    beardguy , September 11, 2012 3:44 PM
    F'ing waste of taxpayer money. So long to another piece of freedom.

    News flash: This system will be abused.
  • 6 Hide
    mihaimm , September 11, 2012 3:48 PM
    Oh... it's just 30 years later than predicted...
  • 5 Hide
    bildo123 , September 11, 2012 3:51 PM
    -1984 points

    Also, where exactly is the Fed gonna get the money to fund this? The BRIC nations are starting to see our t-bills as a bit risky (and worthless) now-a-days. Oh, I got it, QE3! Hurray "stimulus"! Thanks Ben and Keynes!
  • 1 Hide
    slabbo , September 11, 2012 4:18 PM
    just like in minority report with those retina scanners, tracking you everywhere you go.
  • 7 Hide
    festerovic , September 11, 2012 4:21 PM
    time to dust off the guy fawkes mask...
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , September 11, 2012 5:06 PM
    back_by_demandI'm sure if all it took to fool a billion dollar facial recognition software was a liberal application of lipstick or growing a moustache they wouldn't have even announced it...Tell you what, grow a moustache then rob a post office, then shave it off and see if you can fool the system, I dare ya


    give me 100$ and i could make some realistic facial appliances that would fool real people, much less a computer.
  • 4 Hide
    freggo , September 11, 2012 5:48 PM
    8% false positive does not sound like a lot but take a 747 with 300 passengers.
    That's still 24 passengers; enough to cause 'problems' :-(

    And the Database is likely to contain mostly US citizens of course.
    I don't see middle eastern governments turn over photos; and in the case of their women you'd get only a set of eyes anyway !

  • 1 Hide
    madjimms , September 11, 2012 5:53 PM
    Step one, Put silly putty on nose.
    Step two, Put silly putty on chin to look like Jay Leno
    Step three, Allah Akbar?
  • 3 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , September 11, 2012 6:00 PM
    George Orwell's futuristic book was only 30 years before its time.
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