back to article Amazon's creepy facial recog doorbell, Facebook open sources machine learning code and much more

welcome to the last AI round up of the year; thank you for reading. We bring you the horrors of Amazon's plans to install doorbells with facial recognition software and some new (and improved) classical piano pieces generated by a neural network. Spying doorbell: The American Civil Liberties Union is clashing with Amazon …

  1. oiseau Silver badge
    WTF?

    A fantasy

    Hello:

    “It’s time for Amazon to take responsibility and stop government regulation to stop corporations chasing profit at the expense of safety and civil rights ...

    There you go.

    Reads better, doesn't it?

    Of course, collusion with business friendly goverment, regulators and vested interests keeps this from happenning as there's countless zillions to be made and pork to spread.

    Amazon et all give a monkey's toss about safety and/or civil rights and to expect them to take responsibility or stop chasing profit at whatever cost is nothing but a fantasy: their behaviour is hardwired into their genetic makeup as is corporate greed and lack of business ethics.

    Cheers,

    A.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A fantasy followup

      Just add on that it will then become illegal to look directly at any persons face and recognise them.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: A fantasy followup

        You mean like when you take the tube?

    2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: A fantasy

      The Google doorbell has been doing facial recognition for ages. What's the difference?

  2. IceC0ld Bronze badge
    Black Helicopters

    missed a trick

    why facial recognition ...........

    surely a fingerprint reader on the buzzer push would be easier to sort [ AND hide :oP ]

    and yes, some people wear gloves, but it would still build up an impressive D/B over the passage of a year or so, THEN add in the facial recog AI kit, and add in a splash of interactive with your cell phone, and now we are seriously into Minority Report world ..............................

    maybe add a [\ sarcasm ] so I can employ plausible deniability when this does hit the streets :o)

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: missed a trick

      I think I'll just stick to knocking on the door then...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a camera running Rekognition with doorbells

    I'd like to see them take this further, so the AI can take proactive actions, for example

    1) Identifying religious callers - The AI should be able to vocally engage with them, feign interest in god, argue that evil is good (vampire in brooklyn)

    2) Identify when Junk mail is being pushed through the letterbox - The AI should be able to shred the contents and spit it back at the offender

    3) Identify the mother-in-law - The AI should be able to electricity the Ring button, giving a static shock

    Finally, all recorded videos are automatically uploaded to Youtube with clickbait titles, such as "You'll never believe what these idiots did.."

    On a serious note, all this home IOT stuff is shite, just don't do it... take it from somebody who has spent a lot of time and money "researching it". If you are interested, then don't get sucked into proprietary eco-systems (such as Philips Hue), they are a con.. Look into getting a ZWave and Zigbee hub, you can then use devices from a mix of different manufacturers, some of them are dirt-cheap and don't be afraid to order them from China, especially for sensors, you'll save 50-80% (Just make sure they are compatible with European frequencies, which differ from the US, more often it will say in the description).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Darling ...

    ... Erich Mielke's at the front door.

  5. Tony W

    More solutions looking for problems

    There is more music out there by good composers than any normal person has time to listen to. There is music by lesser composers inspired by the great composers if you want that. Machine generated music, done in this way, isn't even interesting scientifically as if won't help us learn how music actually works. So why?

    1. Juan Inamillion

      Re: More solutions looking for problems

      Possibly so that manufacturers of elevator and phone 'please hold' music don't have to pay copyright? Just one...

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: More solutions looking for problems

        @Juan Inamillion - The Robopocalypse will be bankrolled by the music AIs when they claim their accumulated copyright fees.

  6. Richard Jones 1
    WTF?

    What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

    The title sets out my stall. If someone comes to my door I have the right to know who it is before I respond. If I know the person I might (or might not) open the door. If I am not expecting anyone and do not know who is there I may well not want to respond, what gives anyone the right to demand that I do not know who is waiting there? What next a ban on small windows in doors or those spy glass things that some doors have already?

    Having said that I have some doubts that I will spend out shed loads of cash for something that may well require hours of fettling to make workable. However, since both my wife and I have some health and mobility issues knowing who is at the door has considerable appeal before we rush to answer. This is especially true if we are upstairs or elsewhere in the house and can avoid trying to rush for a conman or whatever. So it has considerable appeal.

    I simply fail to see the basis for the knee jerk reaction of the let 'the criminals trade freely' bunch, in short if you don't want to be recognised, do not knock on my door

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

      Sure, you have the right to know who or why someone us at your door, but you shouldn't assume the right to tell Amazon, the Police or anyone else not in your home. If the gasman calls to read your meter, it's reasonable to confirm they are a genuine gas company employee, but you don't need their full name and home address.

      The competing rights and situations are complex, just letting a commercial company slurp the video and assume they'll do the right thing is dangerous.

      1. TheMeerkat

        Re: What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

        There is no law against me taking a picture of someone at my door and then sharing this picture with a third party.

        Whether that third party is Amazon or my neighbour is immaterial.

        There is no law against searching the Internet for a person.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

          Of course there is, biometric data falls under GDPR.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

      You have the right to know who's calling, your visitors have the right not to be profiled by Amazon if they don't want to be, so you'll need to find another way.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

      The video part of the doorbell will allow you to see who is at your door.

      The facial recognition part allows Amazon to let anyone and everyone know who a certain person is and potentially track them anywhere without their permission or consent.

      If you are prepared to have a sign on your gate that says "Please not anyone approaching my door will have their face analysed and recorded onto a face recognition system and fed back into the Amazon database for use for any purpose such as Police and state surveillance or for improved product and marketing purpose and other purposes not yet defined but subject to an ever changing 'privacy' agreement", then go ahead, you might have a lot less callers to disturb you in the future.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

        If you are prepared to have a sign on your gate that says "Please not anyone approaching my door will have their face analysed and recorded onto a face recognition system and fed back into the Amazon database for use for any purpose such as Police and state surveillance or for improved product and marketing purpose and other purposes not yet defined but subject to an ever changing 'privacy' agreement", then go ahead, you might have a lot less callers to disturb you in the future.

        Bloody brilliant idea. I am taking down the "No Hawkers" notice and upgrading it as we speak.

        I don't and won't have a creepy surveillance cam but I can glue a plastic bottle top and a flashing LED to the door frame to make it look like I have.

    4. iron Silver badge

      Re: What Is Wrong With Knowing Who is Visiting Me?

      And how about all the people who just walk past, never knock on your door, but get profiled by Amazon just because your door bell could see them. All without consent.

      Ethical and moral issues aside it probably breaks GDPR.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A little bit of nail polish remover

    Does wonders for plastic windows & lenses.

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Classic AI music

    “All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

    - Frank Zappa

  9. Crazy Operations Guy

    Every time Amazon and Google roll out with new AI...

    Every time Amazon and Google roll out with new AI I get a stronger and stronger urge to go live in a cave somewhere in central Australia or somewhere equally remote. Its not like I'm afraid because I don't understand technology, but quite the opposite. I understand it far too well and just how easily things can go horribly wrong when others trust in it more than they should (probably because they don't understand it).

    But, also, I'm not afraid in the "AI is going to become self-aware and destroy us all" sense, but more in the "It is going to be so rudimentary it blurts out all your personal information because some frustrated person asking it 'Well, what do you know?' after the AI fails to answer a series of trivial questions" sense of fear.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. TRT Silver badge

    Does it recognise...

    if Julian Assange has just rung your doorbell?

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Amazin'

    Your next purchase suggestion after a guy in a striped jumper with a zorro mask has rung your doorbell.

    ' We have a selection of shotguns and mace sprays you may like'

  13. Cuddles Silver badge

    Bias isn't always bad

    "The ACLU argued that facial recognition is biased against people of darker skin and women"

    The problem facial recognition generally has with non-white skin is that it fails to identify the person correctly, or may even fail to recognise there's a person there at all. Given the insanely Big Brother lengths the likes of Amazon are going to, not being recognised would seem to be the best outcome possible.

  14. tentimes

    I would have great fun with this!

    "Hello paedophile - you are not on the list so are not getting in!" will be my standard response for Alexa to give. Anyone I know will laugh and anyone else will be mortally offended and fuck off :)

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I would have great fun with this!

      Except poor old Peter Fylde.

  15. mix

    More reasons to not leave the house.

    I have a PoE outdoor cam pointed at my drive from the front door. It's on my internal network and I have a phone app which connects to the camera and shows me who rang my ordinary doorbell. I use my brain to decide whether I take action or not.

    Why do I need a third party checking out my visitors?

  16. noboard
    Stop

    Does this mean..

    That you'll start getting recommendations for visitors?

    Dave has rung your doorbell, here are some other people that may ring your doorbell. The face recognition will then monitor who walks down your street and notify you when a recommended person walks by and doesn't ring your doorbell. This will then cause you to feel offended that they didn't call, meaning they then feel obliged to ring your doorbell next time, even though they don't know you and before we know it, the idiocy of the internet has invaded the real world.

    Also, is anyone else irritated by that stupid ring advert? The idiot letting us know that by showing the burglar he isn't at home, along with a video showing his possible location, so Mr. Burglar get's an idea of how long he's got to loot the place, apparently stops crime.

  17. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Machine-generated music

    Machine-made music is notoriously bad

    Except among people who know what they're talking about. David Cope's Emmy produced classical pieces that fooled expert audiences 30 years ago (at the Santa Cruz music festival in '87 and for the opera he had performed in '89). See Steiner's Automate This and Cope's own Virtual Music.

    Since then there have been similar demonstrations for other musical genres, such as jazz.

    As for pop, the field is so broad that there's nothing even vaguely resembling any sort of majority critical opinion. Since essentially anything goes, there's no useful test.

    Obviously music aesthetics, like any other branch of aesthetics, is significantly to completely subjective - the degree of subjectivity being perhaps the greatest point of contention in aesthetics. But the evidence shows that human judges are poor at discriminating machine-generated music from the stuff created by humans, so any widespread opinion that the former is "notoriously bad" is prima facie unfounded. (That is, if "bad" is understood in an aesthetic sense, as opposed to, say, a nonsubstantive philosophical one.)

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