back to article Los Angeles police ban facial recognition software and launch review after officers accused of unauthorized use

The Los Angeles police department (LAPD) has banned commercial facial recognition software and launched a review after 25 officers were accused of using it unofficially to try to identify people. On Friday, a directive reportedly sent to the entire department by the head of the LAPD IT arm, plus deputy chief John McMahon, …

  1. Little Mouse Silver badge

    They're missing a trick here...

    Just point a "machine learning" algorithm at your database of criminal mugshots and, Hey Presto!, you've got a black box that can tell whether any face is likely to belong to someone who will commit a crime at some point in their lives, Minority Report style.

    Link that up to CCTV & Facial Recognition systems, and the cops can wander over to your location & dispense some on-the-spot justice for the crime of having the right (wrong?) face.


    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: They're missing a trick here...

      Just skip to the logical conclusion:

      "The crime is life. The sentence is death."

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: They're missing a trick here...

        Oh, a Mega blast from the past. The Dark Judges was it?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police abusing their powers?

    Really? Who would have thunk it?

  3. Cynic_999

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't ...

    One solution for the individual is not to have any online presence or photographs. But I read recently that police consider it very suspicious if a suspect under the age of 50 claims not to have a social media profile, and this will prompt further investigation or surveillance. So it looks like you will need to set up a dummy account with one of the main social media platforms in order to avoid attracting attention.

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't ...

      Dummy Account?

      What happens when a serial killer (or registered member of the opposition party) uses the portrait of the same non-existent person for _their_ dummy account?

  4. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

    We can ban police from using the technology, but how you can stop it from being used by everyone else?

    We might end up in a situation when general public, including criminals, use it routinely but police does not.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      @TheMeerkat: I may be suffering from a failure of imagination, but what use would "the general public" have for facial recognition technology?

  5. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Related, but I rather than AI

    Or perhaps "X" for experience, rather than "I".

    An intriguing study I saw some years ago, showed some fascinating results re experienced (American) Police Officers' ability to spot criminality just from face shape.

    TL;DR: the more experience they had, the better they were at picking actual criminals and the worse they were at (not) falsely identifying non-criminals as criminals.

    That is, actual criminals, the experienced cops were very good at detecting just from their faces.

    However, this _declining_-with-experience error rate inverted when the face was NOT that of a criminal -- the more experience they had, the more likely they were to tag a non-crook as a crook just by looking at them.

    However, a key point for those who kneejerk that the cops are just more likely to be bastards as they get older : the numbers say no. There was a huge increase in Correct percentage, but a much lower increase in Wrong-Way percentage.

    That is, experience matters. But older coppers need to make some allowances for their increasing jadedness -- they will get better and better at cutting to the chase with dickheads but need to be aware they'll also give aggro to innocents more often than when they themselves were innocents.

    Fascinating stuff. And the sort of thing the AI boys should be watching out for in their own hand-rolled proxies.

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