Counter Surveillance Technologist Presents New Wearable Tool for Combating Facial Recognition, 2017 Style

Berlin-based artist Adam Harvey began thinking about facial analysis tools shortly after arriving in New York for a photography job over a decade ago when he "came across some quotes from Susan Sontag."


"And as I read her book on photography it really influenced my perspective," Harvey announced at the Chaos Communications Congress hacking conference in Hamburg, Germany on December 30. 

The origins of today's retail surveillance date back to the early 1960s, according to Harvey. 

"The first recorded instance [of computer vision] that I've come across is from a recently declassified CIA memo that was a proposal for a simplified face recognition machine," Harvey said. 

In 2010, Harvey developed CV Dazzle, an anti-surveillance, avant-garde head piece, which he marketed as "camouflage from face detection."

Harvey seeks to dupe the thousands of companies using facial recognition systems with false information gathered from clothing patterns. He calls it the Hyperface project, which he collaborated on with Hyphen-Labs.

Eyes, mouths and other facial features can all be observed in the clothing by a computer. For Harvey, the Hyperface will allow users to adjust their privacy settings in real life.

“As I’ve looked at in an earlier project, you can change the way you appear, but in camouflage you can think of the figure and the ground relationship," he said. "There’s also an opportunity to modify the ‘ground’, the things that appear next to you, around you, and that can also modify the computer vision confidence score.”

The artist also pointed out how fashion has changed dramatically in the past century as he looked to the next one. 

"In 100 years from now, we’re going to have a similar transformation of fashion and the way that we appear. What will that look like?" he asked. "Hopefully it will look like something that appears to optimize our personal privacy.”

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