What? A clever software engineer, and clothes printer, has created Hyperface, a clothing line that can trick facial recognition software.
Explain. An intrusive sci-fi tech needs a sci-fi solution, and that’s what AH Projects has come up with. It's HyperFace line of clothing, not yet commercially available but which includes scarves that scramble facial detection, is run by Adam Harvey, a Berlin-based American artist and researcher who specialises in privacy, computer vision and surveillance.
How does it work? HyperFace’s clothing tech works by “providing maximally activated false faces based on ideal algorithmic representations of a human face”. In other words, the patterns on the clothing copy the angles and outlines of a human face as they are represented in, and detected by, facial recognition software (take a look at the render above). Even if your face is on show, the many matching false face patterns on the clothing, which are optimised for detection by the software, take advantage of the facial recognition tech’s limitations and redirect the software’s attention. As Harvey, who talks in detail about the subject in this Ted Talk, puts it, the tech is “overloading an algorithm with what it wants, oversaturating an area with faces to divert the gaze of the computer vision algorithm.”
We need this because... The use of facial recognition by companies, and by the police, is largely unregulated. British police are spending millions on testing the tech, in hope of deploying it, despite the fact that systems have been shown to have an error rate of over 90 percent. Though big tech companies, like Amazon and Microsoft (who have their own stakes in the tech) are joining public calls for new legislation, and San Francisco have banned it, we don’t know when regulation in other parts of the world will catch up.
The LCN Take: If we value our privacy we need to combat the continued erosion of our right to it. And if it’s going to take tech-proof clothing to protect us so be it. Because where there’s detection there will always be disguise.
The most powerful and socially conscious theatre you will ever experience created and led by women
What? UK immersive theatre collective telling hard-hitting, contemporary stories performed by the people who’ve lived them. This is Common Wealth Theatre.
Explain. Activist collective theatre group Common Wealth Theatre, founded by dramatists Rhiannon White and Evie Manning, make theatre for people who don’t usually think it’s for them; site-specific, collaborative and politically charged events addressing the here and now with the ambition to shift things and promote change. Most importantly, the people who actually experienced the stories tell them. So a play about war and refugees will feature former soldiers and real refugees. A play about female Muslim boxers breaking stereotypes features real female Muslim boxers. A play about steel workers threatened by mass unemployment features real steel workers. You get the picture.
Why is this important? Ever been to a play and come out a little under-awed? Immersive theatre may have been around for a while but it’s often preferred brilliant, thrilling yet indulgent entertainment to radical and relatable stories that mean something. Perhaps the plays you watch speak about people you don’t recognise or cover worlds far from your own. Common Wealth’s work is one with an unashamedly working class message with the aim of entertaining but also educating, making you think and see the world differently and perhaps even spur you to try to change it for the better and the common good.
And? And it puts the people who have lived the story at the heart of the creative process, not just in the performance but also in the writing and creating, rooting the theatre in the values of specific communities and always seeking solidarity and truth. It gives people who’ve traditionally had no voice a voice.
The LCN Take: Creative radical women making diverse political theatre so powerful it will bring tears to your eyes in extraordinary venues, and open to all at affordable prices. You don’t need us to tell how timely and necessary this is.