Army Tracking Plan: Drones That Never Forget a Face

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By Noah Shachtman

September 28, 2011 “Wired” – –

Perhaps the idea of spy drones already makes your nervous. Maybe you’re uncomfortable with the notion of an unblinking, robotic eye in the sky that can watch your every move. If so, you may want to click away now. Because if the Army has its way, drones won’t just be able to look at what you do. They’ll be able to recognize your face — and track you, based on how you look. If the military machines assemble enough information, they might just be able to peer into your heart.
The Pentagon has tried all sort of tricks to keep tabs on its foes as they move around: tiny transmitters, lingering scents, even “human thermal fingerprints.” The military calls the effort “Tagging, Tracking, and Locating,” or “TTL.” And, as the strategy in places like Afghanistan has shifted from rebuilding societies to taking out individual insurgents, TTL has become increasingly central to the American effort. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been devoted to it.
The current technologies have their limits, however. Transmitters can be discovered, and discarded. Scents eventually waft away. Even the tagged can get lost in a crowd.
But there are some things that can’t be so easily discarded. Like the shape of your face. Or the feelings you keep inside. That’s why the Army just handed out a half-dozen contracts to firms to find faces from above, track targets, and even spot “adversarial intent.”

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  1. On a positive note, if it actually works perhaps it might help reduce the incidence of turning wedding parties and children collecting firewood into small lifeless fragments. But why bother? Most Amerikans regard people “over there” as barely human anyway. I’m sure that it would never in a million years be used on the civilian population here in the states. No, we should have nothing to fear in that regard. It would be alarmist and delusional to think that law enforcement would ever have the slightest interest in using airborne facial recognition technology.

    • It won’t reduce helicopters opening fire on reporters or bombing weddings or anything else because those things are largely on purpose. I’ll grant that many of the guys in the air don’t do it on purpose but the conditions under which this sort of thing happens are intentionally created for that result. The people running the CIA and writing the policy reports at the CFR which Hillary Clinton etal turn into policy know full well they are creating more “terrorists” (really economically hopeless people pissed off because their relatives have been murdered).


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