back to article China's bullet trains to get face-invading cameras

Chinese police will soon be able to use face recognition technology to catch crims, with cameras to be installed at several stations on the Beijing to Shanghai high speed railway. The technology, which was used widely at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will be installed at Shanghai Hongqiao station, Tianjin West and Jinan West, …

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Joke

In further news

Anonymous's travel expenses in China have just been reduced greatly.

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Is this the same kind of technology that is(n't) working in Heathrow?

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no

They wont have involved british companies so most likely it will be far eastern tech (so it will work).

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Too many epsiodes of 'Spooks'

There are (of course) two types of face recognition problem. There's one where I walk up to my office door, identify myself with some appropriate credentials, and the face recognition just needs to check that 'this is Chris Miller'. You can set up the original parameters in a carefully controlled environment and constrain the lighting and positioning of the face (to a great degree) and yet it still doesn't work all that well (cf Heathrow).

Then there's the problem of identifying an individual from a long (and in China it's likely to be very long) list of 'persons of interest' in a rapidly moving crowd adopting changing orientations to the camera at a relatively great distance and with less than optimal lighting. I suppose nothing's impossible, but good luck with getting that to work without deluging you with false positives.

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Trollface

Re: Too many epsiodes of 'Spooks'

False positives? This is china. You are guilty if the party thinks so.

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Re: Too many epsiodes of 'Spooks'

Person gets on train and the routine starts. 2 mins later the officers step on the next stop and catch criminal. It doesnt have to be "really fast" recognition.

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Are you getting John Bunnell to do the titles now?

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Anonymous Coward

The problem...

... isn't the use of face recognition technology to catch criminals.

The problem is certain governments' definition of 'criminal'.

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Joke

Re: The problem...

Conveniently, a criminal is defined as anyone recognized by the system as being a criminal. Hey, look! Our system makes no mistakes!

What? Do you say our system makes mistakes? That is criticism of the Party! You must be a criminal!

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Anonymous Coward

Truly

China's a trailblazer these days. Look, the western world has followed them on the censorship and is sure to follow with this, too. Whether this'll be beneficial to the citizenry? Definitely it is unless you're a doubter. Are you a doubter?

Shit, we all know this tune. We all know what's going to happen next and we also know that our top cops are just salivating for this sort of thing. Soon it'll be a simple matter to just upgrade the existing CCTV installations and then it's a numbers game. A few percent chance detection per camera, times how many cameras? Are you feeling safe and secure yet, citizen?

Even if you don't care a whit about faraway China, this will eventually impact all of us. We really do need to make us some choices about just what we want with the technology. How do we tell our overlords what's going to happen to the systems installed ostentatiously for our benefit, currently mainly used for their dog poo and littering detection properties?

How do we try and contain the tech so that it really only is used for the purpose it was sold us for (which currently is not the case, obviously), and can we possibly succeed? We've got our work cut out for us.

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Anonymous Coward

So, China's bullet trains *NOT* to get face-invading cameras.

No, it is not pedantic or overly-literal-minded of me to point out that a train and a station are two different things. There's a limit to how far your usage of language can be sloppy or loose before it becomes just plain wrong, and this headline was way over that line. I'm endorsing three points on your poetic license; many more, and you risk getting a ban.

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Boffin

AC, on closer inspection, I fear you'll find that Phil's «poetic license»

is very near to being revoked. Not only does he fail to recognise the distinction between trains, on the one hand, and train stations, on the other, but to take merely one other example of his creative book-keeping, he also failed to observe that being 59th and 61st, respectively, on a list (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/06/asiapacific_worldwide_it_spending/), is not quite the same thing as being 51st and 69th, respectively, on that same list (http://www3.weforum.org/docs/Global_IT_Report_2012.pdf - see, p 12 «Table 1: The Networked Readiness Index 2012»). Unfortunately, he shares this predilection to (selective) sloppiness with certain other Reg bloggers ; what is worse is that he, like them, seems unwilling to correct his errors of fact even when they a pointed out to him....

Henri

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Re: Too many epsiodes of 'Spooks'

You're looking at the wrong end of the stick. At Heathrow the job is to confirm that the face matches the passport reliably enough that no human is required. Here, you just need to confirm that Jo Random is *not* on your most wanted list. If, on the other hand, the face in the crowd *might* be Ku Ning Kruk, you pass it on to a wetware neural network for further analysis.

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Quite simply really

1. wear sunglasses

2. Grow a beard & tache

3. wear a hat

4. Wear a buhrka

Alternatively, move to the 'burbs, dump your mobile phone, buy a cow and a mudhut, and grow rice for a living. You will effectively vanish...

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Re: Quite simply really

In true style, you should wear a Guy Fawkes mask, shouldn't you?

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Big Brother

Re: Quite simply really

Can I expect Dazzle makeup to become de rigeur in the PRC now?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzle_camouflage#Modern_use

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Potential

"can also see through cosmetic surgery procedures which some criminals use to avoid detection."

Wow, can't wait for the stories where Chinese police beat the shit out of some innocent person, then disappear them for having the temerity to complain about it!

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IR

What?

Why are there no "they all look the same" racist jokes? Or were they the ones that got deleted?

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lacist jokes

It never occurred to me. Too tired a line of humour I guess.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: racist jokes

Actually it is an issue with all facial recog software I have ever used - spotting the difference between any Chinese / Korean people. Quite often it will even get the sex wrong. Very good accuracy on westerners who tend to have more obvious differences (eye colour, more variety of hair colour etc) that the software can pick up on.

Mind you the same software also has issues with "bald men with beards" and frequently mixes them up too even where there are other major differences. "Women who change their hairstyle" also confuse the hell out of the software.

I imagine the Chinese will be tuning this to work in their local market where they certainly DO NOT look all the same.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: racist jokes

Yep, the (mild) one I recall apparently was vanished by the vulture mod bureau. Maybe a new mod, possibly from a temp agency in the yellow pages. Who knows. Anyway.

At the very least this'll give the Chinese lots of data to train their machine learning algorithms with. Purely academically speaking (I don't like getting recognised much less by a machine; loathe that sort of technology (ab)use) it'd be interesting to see whether they get their recognition rates at reasonable levels and whether the resulting system will still manage to sort through, well, what counts as furriners for them.

But given that they have manpower enough, one has to ask, why would they automate this? Why put in the effort? I wouldn't hold it beyond them go there for the resale value, though that's probably not the only reason. It's a curious thing, that's for certain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What?

Damn! —you beat me to it!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: racist jokes

"...the same software also has issues with "bald men with beards" ..."

That's because it thinks they've got their head on upsidedown.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: racist jokes

Spotting who is Korean, Chinese, or Japanese is a very different class of problem. Each of the populations have a great deal of variability, there are few if any traits you can find in just one population. Some are more typical Chinese or Korean, but not to the exclusion of the other. It is like spotting who is Czech, Italian, or Finnish with no other cues. It is much harder than Hollywood seems to believe.

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One way the software may work better

-- STRIP out the "hair" as "extraneous" cobwebs/accessories

-- Use IR, UV, and ultrasonics to scan the shape of the skull/cranium

-- Correlate ears, eye sockets, chin jut, and gait

Even for criminals having enough money to hide behind plastic surgery, most may be hesitant to have their jaws broken, nose bridge realigned, and eye sockets adjusted. Even if so, the gait is a tough thing to change. Of course, if all start walking like jive turkeys, security may be so distracted as to make it as criminal or an infraction as it is in Texas for anyone walking with the pants hip lower than the buttocks, hehehehe.

Another way to verify everyone is to make it mandatory that for school registrations, job retention, and travel permission, ALL persons domestic and foreign must submit to a bald-shaving and 3D acousto-densitometry skull (external) scan.

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Joke

Re: One way the software may work better

Au contraire! Some criminals do regularly get their nose bridges realigned. Not necessarily voluntarily, I'll grant. As I recall a usual start of such a procedure is "What yer lookin' at?!!"

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Big Brother

Isn't it fortunate...

... that the only governments who want to use this sort of technology are repressive, dictatorial regimes who have no respect for personal liberties or democratic principles and operate on the basis of "presumed guilty".

We'd never see British Governments trying to introduce anything like that here, would we...???

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Unhappy

Transportation hubs are major catchment areas for Internal Security

When travelling in China it is common to be asked for your ID card or passport even more so in BeiJing.

More and more of the Chinese police are being issued two-way radio's with cameras and ID card scanners so that the subjects full data file is accessible any where, any time. Foreigners visa fies can be pulled up, too.

It won't be long before the UK has it too, who knows, maybe ACPO is already planning the latest assault on British citizen's privacy.

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