by John Galt
March 26, 2012 22:55 ET
Imagine that one day some poor sucker was acting weird because he appeared that he had too much to drink and stumbled into a city square with his briefcase in tow. In reality he was just lost and exhausted.
Imagine a computer that observes this individual via a security camera monitoring system used Artificial Intelligence to acquire and observe him.
Imagine the computer uploading photographs to the NSA database, receiving information back profiling the individual and because he was a CCW owner, the computer determined using it’s programming that this person was a threat.
Imagine the computer contacting Federal or local authorities and issuing a terror alert to apprehend this person and automatically notifying other computer security systems in the city that he is a pending threat.
Imagine the individual being picked up without cause beyond a computer alert and detained without due process under the Patriot Act.
Don’t imagine it, the above scenario is real and could happen tomorrow.
One week ago, the head of the National Security Agency strongly denied the Wired magazine story by James Bamford titled “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)“. The video of this denial is below courtesy of Wired and was designed specifically to allay the fears of an American public which is not used to the idea of having their every movement tracked and every word spoken recorded.
The shock effect of the original story and impact beyond the alternative news circuit and blogosphere lasted all of three days. However, a recent patent was issued to Behavioral Recognition Systems (BRS Labs), Number 8,131,012, should send a larger chill down your spine when tied to the massive database being constructed for the NSA. Imagine a world where security cameras record your movements and because a computer program using Artificial Intelligence is able to determine that an individual’s appearance or actions within a monitored section and law enforcement is notified because that individual appeared in a location that a computer determined was irregular.
That technology exists now and is being actively sold and deployed.
The explanation of the precursor to this was demonstrated by BRS Labs’ Isight system as explained in the video below:
The new patent, per an article (click here to read in full) in Government Security News, is described as:
The results of this work — the patented AlSight Behavioral Recognition System — accepts video streams from standard cameras, detects and tracks subjects, characterizes their appearances and properties, classifies them, learns the patterns of behavior they exhibit, remembers those patterns, recognizes behaviors that deviate from those patterns and alerts the user about those events in real time.
“These advancements would not have been possible ten or fifteen years ago because science didn’t adequately understand how the human brain models and manipulates data, and there wasn’t enough computer power to get the job done,” said Dr. Wesley Cobb, chief science officer at BRS Labs. “Now, computers are exponentially faster and we have been successful in developing a method and system for analyzing and learning behavior based on acquired streams of video frames. This was an extremely difficult technical problem to solve, and to our knowledge, no other company has been able to approximate or duplicate what we have done.”
U.S. Patent Number 8,131,012, issued to BRS Labs earlier this month, covers the invention of using artificial intelligence learning modules to recognize behavior patterns in a video stream to identify objects and events that are unusual.
Thus not only are objects and characteristic changes detected, but human behavior and activities are now interpreted by a computer using Artificial Intelligence to determine the threat level and notifying either a monitoring station or authorities if necessary. Obviously this system will be widely deployed by the Federal Government and private industry working for the defense industry initially, but as affordability is achieved via mass production and upgraded versions of the software are issued. What is terrifying is the idea that the U.S. is following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom and ultimately the defunct German Democratic Republic as a nation which spends more times observing its citizens to control their freedoms rather than to protect them.