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Yitu Technologies’ AI powers massive facial recognition capabilities


Yitu Technologies’ Dragonfly Eye facial recognition platform has logged 1.8 billion photographs stored in a government database, including Chinese nationals and visitors to the country, the South China Morning Post reports in an article on the company’s powerful artificial intelligence systems.

Dragonfly Eye is used by more than 20 provincial security departments, and more than 150 municipal security systems across the country. It enabled the capture of 567 suspected criminals in its first three months of deployment in Shanghai’s Metro system earlier this year.

“Our machines can very easily recognise you among at least 2 billion people in a matter of seconds,” Yitu chief executive and Yitu co-founder Zhu Long told the South China Morning Post, “which would have been unbelievable just three years ago.”

Zhu says the scope of change caused by AI will surpass the industrial revolution.

“People waste time discussing whether it’s all hype or the real thing, but facial recognition already shows how real it can get,” he says. “In 2015, AI had already beaten humans in face-verification tasks. Our algor¬ithm is more accurate than customs officials at telling whether two images show the same person. It can even find a subject among millions of others using a 25- or 30-year-old image. And in the past two years, the performance of machines has increased by 1,000 times.”

Yitu is working with China Merchants Bank to develop facial recognition for cash withdrawals at ATMs.

When asked about criticism of the Chinese government’s use of AI for public surveillance by Human Rights Watch, and the warnings of AI’s potential danger by Tesla founder Elon Musk, Zhu responded: “As a scientist, I am quite curious about how far we can take technology, but I do partly agree with that view and I share the concern.”

Last month Yitu won first place in accuracy in the Facial Recognition Prize Challenge hosted by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

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