How Fashion Designers Are Outsmarting Facial Recognition Surveillance.

Privacy activists say we should be alarmed by the rise of automated facial recognition surveillance. But transhumanist Zoltan Istvan says it’s time to embrace the end of privacy as we know it.

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Every day, your movement is tracked. Your purchases are logged, your searches saved. And increasingly, your face is scanned.

Facial recognition technology is becoming more widespread daily, and governments are finding new applications in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Privacy International reports that 24 countries have already implemented location tracking to help ensure compliance with quarantines.

So can we resist the surveillance society? Should we?

Kate Rose says yes.

“I think you have a right to consent to how your information is used, especially if it’s meant to be at some point used against you or used extrajudicially,” says Rose, the cybersecurity analyst and fashion designer who founded Adversarial Fashion, a line of surveillance-resistant clothing. Its wares include masks meant to block facial recognition cameras, and shirts patterned with fake license plates meant to feed bad data into automated license plate readers.

Rose’s concern about extrajudicial use of personal data is more plausible than ever in the age of coronavirus lockdowns.
San Francisco and Oakland have outright banned the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement. Some technologists think such bans are overreactions.

“Suspending A.I. [artifical intelligence] facial recognition like San Francisco and Oakland…is idiocy to be honest. And lives will be lost,” says Zoltan Istvan, a tech writer and self-described transhumanist who is currently seeking the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nomination. Istvan believes that humans should celebrate and embrace the disruptive capabilities of technology to modify the human body and experience. He even implanted an RFID chip in his hand that allows him to unlock his front door.

Facial recognition technology “is going to be very useful to the human race,” says Istvan, “but we just kinda got to get over it being creepy.” 

Istvan envisions authorities using facial recognition and other artificial intelligence–driven surveillance tools to prevent terrorist attacks by recognizing abnormal behaviors or suspicious individuals in crowds. Or to aid the government in fighting human trafficking.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller and Justin Monticello. Opening graphics by Lex Villena. Camera by James Lee Marsh, John Osterhoudt, Weissmueller, and Monticello. Hong Kong camerawork by Edwin Lee.   

Music credits: Songs from the album Paradigm Lost by Kai Engel licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 2.0 license. 

Photo credits: “Thermal surveillance,” by Dario Sabljak/agefotostock/Newscom; “Surveillance camera,” Caro/Sorge/Newscom; “Chula Vista facial recognition tablet,” Howard Lipin/TNS/Newscom

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Comment (24)

  1. My question is : Why this surveillance technology is not used rather to watch what our criminal corrupted governments do behind closed doors ? They are ones that should be under public surveillance 24 hours a day !!

  2. "Get over it being creepy"
    This guy not only doesn't understand Civil Liberties, he has a VERY SUBJECTIVE viewpoint about Facial Recognition mostly due to his extreme financial interest in the widespread implementation of this highly invasive and dangerous tech

  3. The entire "Terrorist" scenario is such an extreme and irrelevant example 🙄
    The fact that EVERYONE would be tracked without privacy or anonymity outweighs this absurd scenario by 1 BILLION times

  4. I'm a strong believer in "transhumanism". I think that pushing or modifying ourselves to the point of immortality (and even giving ourselves other beneficial features) should be our number one priority in the STEM community. But this guy representing this "transhumanism society" is a fucking joke. Seems like he doesn't even care about making immortal humans, only about giving them a barcode.

  5. You can start the resistance by not using facial recognition on your cell phone or anywhere else it may be offered. They put it on phones as a way to unlock them and try to get it more accepted.

  6. 6:50
    That guy is a joke , I can tell you that corrupt politicians in Mexico and narcos have access to Pegasus that is the most advanced phone hacking software. Even when the government promised it will only be used for national security purposes.

  7. Correction governments and the so called power structure do not have my consent to remove my power to take my power. I have my own power and the rest can go and take a hike and if they( those that assume they act on my behalf) can go get lost. I NEVER CONSENTED NOR WILL I.

  8. An investigation by US government on the data collection by FBI found that not a single terrorist attack was avoided by mass meta data collection, more over such crazy hoarding of data is more suitable towards authoritarian government. I see how technology can improve our life, but I don't understand how collecting data(without consent) where I bought my cereal from and who was I talking to when I bought my cereal is going to solve any major problem.


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