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Hiding from AI might not work, but the attempts are at least entertaining

Hiding from AI might not work, but the attempts are at least entertaining

Researchers continue to seek ways to defeat biometric surveillance in public and semi-public places. Unfortunately, each idea involves costumes that look at home only in science-fiction movies.

So it is with the Ignotum project (translation from Latin: the unknown) led by the German design studio WertelOberfell.

Working with a cross-discipline group of research and industry collaborators, the designers have created an adversarial fashion strategy to throw face biometrics off the scent.

They came up with a black, layered poncho/throwover sewn through with electronics and flexible, light-strip grids designed to confuse AI biometrics viewing via CCTV.

The light patterns cause the biometrics algorithm used by the researchers to doubt if the black-clad, moving object was a human. In some cases, the software was only 33 percent sure it was viewing a person, according to WertelOberfell.

Ignotum builds on several previous efforts (some absolutely fanciful). The new project, like the others, is more of a statement to businesses and governments: Stop watching.

WertelOberfell is part of the Re-Fream fashion consortium within Horizon 2020, a research program funded by the European Union.

Other participants included additive manufacturer Stratasys, applied-researcher Profactor, Swiss material and tech researcher Empa and the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration.

Previous research into strategies that force AIs to misidentify people has had colorful results.

Saudi Arabian researchers found that a person with a face full of disgust can fool facial recognition systems.

In Chicago, an eyeglass designer has started a business selling eyewear that hide a person’s eyes or even their face from biometric surveillance.

Researchers from IBM, MIT and Northeastern University created a T-shirt that hid the wearer from AI analysis. Bonus: Wired described it as “ugly.”

That reaction might have come prior to seeing one biometrics camouflage concept that involved gluing a column of black canine teeth down a person’s cheeks.

All, indeed, colorful ideas, but none can top the plan to have people wear headdresses that played a still, color image of another person over an AI-shy face in the Netherlands.

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