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The sweatshirt that crashes facial recognition systems

A sort of invisibility cloak that makes it difficult for artificial intelligence to work

Video surveillance systems with facial recognition are already widespread in various countries around the world and there is a real possibility that these tools could be increasingly used in the years to come. A group of researchers from the University of Maryland has created a special sweatshirt that uses an analogical approach to defend itself from prying eyes: thanks to the particular decorative graphics it is in fact possible to haywire the artificial intelligence that form the basis of these systems, creating a sort cloak of invisibility that blocks recognition. 


” This stylish sweater is a great way to stay warm this winter – you can read on the website of the University of Maryland Department of Computer Science – It features a waterproof microfleece lining, a modern fit, and an anti-AI pattern, which will help hide from detectors. For the test, one of the most widespread and tested real-time detection systems based on machine learning such as YOLOv2 was used, to create a sort of collage of images and colors designed ad hoc to confuse artificial intelligences. The sweatshirt looks like it’s taken from a basket of poor quality clothing sold by the kilo, but it’s actually a very effective shield to make yourself invisible.

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By simplifying the procedure that led to the choice of that specific image, the detection systems exploit huge databases of images, details and particulars which are then searched for within the frame in real time, balancing the dimensions and proportions of moving objects and people . To confuse the detectors it was therefore necessary to create a pattern opposite to that of search and identification : the same principle of background noise cancellation on board modern headphones, with a sound wave opposite to that of the sound to be eliminated. So is a simple sweatshirt enough to make yourself invisible to surveillance cameras? It’s not that simple: the demonstration system has a success rate of around 50%and it is more than foreseeable that artificial intelligences will succeed in the next few years in improving the effectiveness of detection by bypassing these analogical methods. For the moment in Italy these surveillance technologies are still under the eye of the Privacy Guarantor, as in the case of those purchased by the Municipality of Lecce.


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