AI-Powered Body Cams Give Cops The Power To Google Everything They See

PRIVACY
Photo Illustration: Vocativ

Taser has started its own in-house AI unit, laying the groundwork for police body cameras that record fully-searchable video evidence

Last week, Taser, the stun gun company that has recently become an industry leader in body-mounted cameras, announced the creation of its own in-house artificial intelligence division. The new unit will utilize the company’s acquisition of two AI-focused firms: Dextro, a New York-based computer vision startup, and Misfit, another computer vision company previously owned by the watch manufacturer Fossil. Taser says the newly formed division will develop AI-powered tech specifically aimed at law enforcement, using automation and machine learning algorithms to let cops search for people and objects in video footage captured by on-body camera systems.

Moreover, the move suggests that body-worn cameras, which are already being used by police departments in many major cities, could soon become powerful surveillance tools capable of identifying different objects, events, and people encountered by officers on the street — both retroactively and in real time.

The idea is to use machine learning algorithms to streamline the process of combing through and redacting hours of video footage captured by police body cameras. Dextro has trained algorithms to scan video footage for different types of objects, like guns or toilets, as well as recognize events, like a foot chase or traffic stop. The result of all this tagging and classifying is that police will be able use keywords to search through video footage just like they’d search for news articles on Google, allowing them to quickly redact footage and zoom in on the relevant elements. Taser predicts that in a year’s time, their automation technology will reduce the total amount of time needed to redact faces from one hour of video footage from eight to 1.5 hours.

Screen Shot 2017 02 15 at 1.14.40 PM

A Dextro demonstration shows real-time classification of people and objects in video

Taser
Searchable video will also have major implications for civilian privacy, especially since there are no federal laws preventing police from trawling through databases to track people en masse.

Taser has previously expressed interest in adding face recognition capabilities to its body camera systems. A Department of Justice study published last year also found that at least nine different body camera manufacturers either currently support face recognition in their products or have the ability to add it later. And according to a recent Georgetown University Law report, roughly half of all American adults have been entered into a law enforcement face recognition database, meaning there’s decent chance that any random person walking down the street can be identified and tracked in secret by a camera-equipped cop.

A Taser representative told Vocativ that while Dextro’s computer vision technology will allow Taser’s law enforcement customers to detect faces for the purpose of redacting them from videos, it does not currently support face recognition…

more…

http://www.vocativ.com/402771/ai-body-cams-cops-google/

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