Using Facial Biometrics to nab the bad guys is all over the Indian media lately – and the usual morons are howling about “privacy”, so what exactly is it? A little background first.
Way back in the mid ’90s, I was a part-time motoring anchor for a then leading but now almost defunct television channel. Those were good days, we were all (presumably) idealistically driven, and the PR as well as lobbying outfits had not really taken up positions in India – it was the advertising honchos who pulled muscle in the game and were also well versed with their one-line bills as well as used as cut-outs for opaque corporate veils. A couple of desi names who suddenly “owned” controlling shares in advertising companies come to mind.
(This space intentionally left blank, because the advertising industry is still very powerful!!)
But soon enough, “technical consultants” from abroad started landing up to “assist” us natives, in a manner that reminded me how Edward Lansdale moved seamlessly from advertising to Philippines and Vietnam. The man was a legend for anyone who sailed the seas off Indo-China in the ’70s, which included me, by the way. And that’s when I met a man from HongKong, let’s call him “Jack”, who badly wanted a steering wheel from a particular vintage car for his speedboat moored in the Columbia River. He also happened to know a lot about Vietnam and the Philippines, so did I, and we got along well. The bar at Astoria, a particularly tricky entry to the Columbia River, was something I had “done” as a cadet – and fallen into the cold river too, surviving by getting hold of a log floating downriver – so we had a lot to speak about. But hey, here’s Lansdale’s story.
So anyways, one day over far too many drinks for Jack (by then I had learnt not to try to compete on booze with Yanks, and the bar-tender at a particularly famous nightclub managed by a schoolmate was instructed to serve me soda-with-lime-and-a-little-umbrella while billing Jack for Singapore Slings), I learnt what he was REALLY there for. These were early days for the internet, and believe it or not, I had a VSNL connection at home which was something that the TV Channel also did not have. Internet was not considered competition by television, then, fear of the unknown.
(Can you think of any war after WW2 which has not involved the United States of Umrika, and would you like to research how much they earned out of all those wars?)
So anyways, what Jack told me was about this fascinating new technology called Facial Biometrics, which was being used by them to figure out credible faces vs not so credible faces. The algorithms, another new word for me then, were for about 18-21 triangulation points of a human’s face for the mid 80% to 90% of his or her natural life. And most interestingly, while a lot of the research came from bespoke Universities in the West, some of the basics came from old research on gotras and documents taken from the seven Pagodas submerged off Mahabalipuram by Elijah Yale – along with the secrets on how to control gunpowder. And thousands of slaves.
Facial biometrics at its simplest is a cheap web camera and a small computer. Everything else depends on the speed of the internet pipeline and the processors as well as servers somewhere at the other end. It works on a basic of continuously removing false positives as well as facial algorithms that do not match the target. Facial biometrics is no longer rocket science and is available on any cheap smartphone too. I had already seen trials of facial biometric systems at crowded airports and football stadiums, more than 15 years ago, and things have only got better as well as cheaper since then.
People can try what they want – dark glasses, caps, beards – fact remains, for the middle 80% to 90% of a human beings life, the facial algorithms remain pretty much the same.Which means, for an assumed 80 year life span, your facial biometrics will remain almost the same from 8 years to 72 years. There is simply no getting away from facial biometrics.
The really spooky technology that is building up rapidly is mind bending and mind reading. Now that’s something else again, also known as “subliminal mind control”.
So read the text or watch the video and get the drift, please.
I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind
Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.
A survivor of two brain-strokes, triggered by a ship explosion in the 70s, Veeresh moved beyond fear decades ago.