Palo Alto scientists have launched a service allowing people around the world to use facial recognition software to “win” free prison visits for their loved ones by answering a series of security questions. At launch, only 26 users in New Zealand were participating in the competition, but 14 more have signed up since then.
The new service, known as “Clearview AI,” was developed by researchers from Stanford University and the University of British Columbia and is available through the company’s website. Users need to register as soon as they want to sign up, and after taking the quiz, the biometric database that their physical appearance and biometric information will be matched to is displayed on a screen. The users then proceed to select their relative to receive a personal phone call with a familiar voice. (The winner gets one free call every six months for life.)
“The idea is to allow people to share a significant experience with their family that is not otherwise available at the time of need,” explained Sasha Giannini, one of the Clearview AI researchers. “There is typically a cultural barrier for people to visit loved ones in prison.”
The service is an updated version of an existing mobile app, BrighterView, which allows users to view and contact their incarcerated loved ones. The new program, which went live on April 11, also allows the winners to choose the cities where they would like to hold their reunion.
In the first few days since the new facial recognition service was launched, Clearview AI said it has received 400,000 unique visitors and traveled 1.5 million miles. About 23,000 people have entered the challenge so far, the company said. One thing the company is running into is that the Stanford University and University of British Columbia samples are two of the very best — or least bad — of the statistics for security questions. Mr. Giannini told Vice News that tests are ongoing to ensure the system isn’t being misused.
“Every single person entering the database will be a high standard,” he said. “All the passwords needed to enter the database will be generated for each individual. There is no way for someone to secretly access a database. We have security measures that protect not only against bad guys but also against our own colleagues or the firms we use the database with.”
According to Vice News, Giannini also acknowledged that while many people would likely sign up to participate in the program, not everyone will be interested.
“The idea was to open it up to as many people as possible,” he said. “Some people might be more interested in this than others. This is an easy way to take the pressure off family and friends who’ve spent a lot of time behind bars.”
Read the full story at Vice News.
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