Posts Tagged ‘Facial Recognition Technology’

Representation

January 18, 2020

In April of 2013 the Licking County Commissioners announced the demolition of the Children’s Home on East Main Street (2 of the 3 Commissioners continue to this day). The decrepit county jail was spared the wrecking ball (for it’s amusement potential). Today one can go to the Newark Library and peruse the archives for photos of the Home as well as the jail. One can walk a few blocks and look at the jail, point to it, and maybe compare it with the archival photo (something one cannot do with the Children’s Home as only the photos remain). Dear Leader may claim that “It doesn’t matter.” yet there is a difference between the architecture of The Historic Jail on south 4thStreet, and the representation of that and the Children’s Home found with the photographs. The dictionary gives the origins of the word “representation” to stem from the Middle English ‘image, likeness,’ and further back from the Latin ‘bring before, exhibit.’ Social media is just filled with representations. Some post photos of the meal they were served. The representation is not what they had for lunch. Then there are the ubiquitous and ever growing slew of people photo’s, including crime footage as well as celebrations. Many are edited to look good (like the Kardashians). The distinction gets a little fuzzy when we take photos of checks, etc. as documentation (if only they could be edited!). The representation (image) is the thing (exhibit). Analysis found updated fuzziness in a pair of news articles that appeared near simultaneously. National Archives exhibit blurs images critical of President Trump by Joe Heim for The Washington Post appeared 1-17-20. “The Archives acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred. In the original version of the 2017 photograph, taken by Getty Images photographer Mario Tama, the street is packed with marchers carrying a variety of signs, with the Capitol in the background. In the Archives version, at least four of those signs are altered. A placard that proclaims “God Hates Trump” has “Trump” blotted out so that it reads “God Hates.” A sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women” has the word Trump blurred out.” How does this differ from the Licking County Commissioners’ erasure of the Children’s Home? “Karin Wulf, a history professor at the College of William & Mary and executive director of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, said that to ensure transparency, the Archives at the very least should have noted prominently that the photo had been altered. “The Archives has always been self-conscious about its responsibility to educate about source material, and in this case they could have said, or should have said, ‘We edited this image in the following way for the following reasons,’ ” she said. “If you don’t have transparency and integrity in government documents, democracy doesn’t function.”” Which brings us to the second article, more or less about unedited images (representations) that function, unintentionally, as documents (exhibits). Is their “transparency and integrity” conducive to our democracy? The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It by Kashmir Hill appeared in the NY Times 1-18-20. “Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos. Then Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.” “In addition to Mr. Ton-That, Clearview was founded by Richard Schwartz — who was an aide to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was mayor of New York — and backed financially by Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist behind Facebook and Palantir. Another early investor is a small firm called Kirenaga Partners. Its founder, David Scalzo, dismissed concerns about Clearview making the internet searchable by face, saying it’s a valuable crime-solving tool.” Hill ends his article with “Even if Clearview doesn’t make its app publicly available, a copycat company might, now that the taboo is broken. Searching someone by face could become as easy as Googling a name. Strangers would be able to listen in on sensitive conversations, take photos of the participants and know personal secrets. Someone walking down the street would be immediately identifiable — and his or her home address would be only a few clicks away. It would herald the end of public anonymity. Asked about the implications of bringing such a power into the world, Mr. Ton-That seemed taken aback. “I have to think about that,” he said. “Our belief is that this is the best use of the technology.”” How does this differ from the Licking County Commissioners tacitly agreeing to keeping the old jail (for amusement purposes)?