Waldo is Latest Victim of Face-Scanning Surveillance

There is now a robotic arm that can find Waldo in almost any Where’s Waldo picture, pointing to a dark future of surveillance in which the European Union’s ‘right to be forgotten’ is a distant memory.Waldo is Latest Victim of Face-Scanning Surveillance

Developed by marketing firm Redpepper, the tool is the latest product of Google’s AutoML machine learning platform, a piece of open source software aimed at letting non-developers train their own AI systems. As The Verge reports, Redpepper’s system comprises an uArmSwift Pro robotic arm and a Vision Camera Kit, and uses a form of facial recognition to identify Waldo’s face in the crowded images that make up his famous children’s books.

The Redpepper employee who built the system, Matt Reed, says he trained it on “62 distinct Waldo heads and 45 Waldo heads plus body” that he retrieved form online image searches, adding that it offers “surprisingly good predictions on Waldos that weren’t in the original training set.”

Reed also says he was inspired by Amazon’s Rekognition system, which has attracted a great deal of controversy in recent months over its use by police in public surveillance. While the controversy has generated some healthy public debate, it has also drawn attention away from some of the positive social benefits offered by contemporary facial recognition technology.

Waldo, meanwhile, has few powerful allies to back him up against Redpepper’s profiling. And he has nowhere to hide.

Source: The Verge