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This AI can recognize protesters at rallies, even in disguise

A group of researchers from the UK and India have developed an AI that can identify people using deep learning to enhance facial recognition capabilities, even when certain physical features are obscured.

Translation: you could be identified from surveillance footage and photos, no matter if you’re covering your face with a hat, scarf, sunglasses or a beard.

The deep learning system looks at 14 points on a face and measures the distances between them in order to recognize people.

Credit: University of Cambridge / National Institute of Technology / Indian Institute of Science

By training the AI with two datasets containing 2,000 images each – one with simple backgrounds and another with more varied elements, including multiple people per picture – the team has been able to achieve a 56 percent success rate in identifying subjects in disguise.

So yes, the technology hasn’t been perfected yet. That success rate drops to 43 percent when the subject is wearing glasses. So if you’re out protesting, you might still want to keep your balaclava and shades on for privacy; the danger, as the paper notes, is that such systems could be continually improved upon and used by governments to track down dissenting citizens.

The full paper from the researchers at the University of Cambridge, the National Institute of Technology in Warangal, India, and the Indian Institute of Science, can be found here.