IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Researchers develop AI to fool facial recognition tech

A team from the University of Toronto has created an algorithm to disrupt the technology

AI artificial intelligence

A team of engineering researchers from the University of Toronto have created an algorithm to dynamically disrupt facial recognition systems.

Led by professor Parham Aarabi and graduate student Avishek Bose, the team used a deep learning technique called "adversarial training", which pits two artificial intelligence algorithms against each other.

Aarabi and Bose designed a set of two neural networks, the first one identifies faces and the other works on disrupting the facial recognition task of the first. The two constantly battle and learn from each other, setting up an ongoing AI arms race.

"The disruptive AI can 'attack' what the neural net for the face detection is looking for," Bose said in an interview with Eureka Alert.

"If the detection AI is looking for the corner of the eyes, for example, it adjusts the corner of the eyes so they're less noticeable. It creates very subtle disturbances in the photo, but to the detector, they're significant enough to fool the system."

The result looks similar to an Instagram filter that can be applied to photos to protect privacy. The algorithm targets very specific pixels in the image, making subtle changes that are almost imperceptible to the human eye.

"The key here was to train the two neural networks against each other, with one creating an increasingly robust facial detection system, and the other creating an ever stronger tool to disable facial detection," added Bose.

Concerns over privacy and data security are high with questions being asked of the likes of Google, Amazon and the Metropolitan Police in London who are implementing and providing facial recognition technology.

Google has unveiled doorbells that use facial recognition cameras, which will go on sale in British suburbs, raising concerns about invasion of privacy.

Amazon has come under fire from the American Civil liberties Union (ACLU) and others for providing the US police force with its facial recognition software.

London's Met police were said to be using 'dangerously inaccurate' facial recognition technology that is claimed to have a failure rate of 98%.

Aarabi believes 'anti' facial recognition systems can benefit personal privacy as the neural nets become more and more advanced.

"Personal privacy is a real issue as facial recognition becomes better and better," added Aarabi. "This is one way in which beneficial anti-facial-recognition systems can combat that ability."

"Ten years ago these algorithms would have to be human-defined, but now neural nets learn by themselves, you don't need to supply them anything except training data.

"In the end, they can do some really amazing things. It's a fascinating time in the field, there's enormous potential."

Image credit: Shutterstock 

Featured Resources

The state of Salesforce: Future of business

Three articles that look forward into the changing state of Salesforce and the future of business

Free Download

The mighty struggle to migrate SAP to the cloud may be over

A simplified and unified approach to delivering Enterprise Transformation in the cloud

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM FlashSystem

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by FlashSystem

Free Download

Recommended

Machine learning vs AI vs NLP
Business strategy

Machine learning vs AI vs NLP

8 Jul 2022
A guide to cyber security certification and training
Careers & training

A guide to cyber security certification and training

16 Jun 2022
World’s biggest four-day working week trial kicks off in UK
flexible working

World’s biggest four-day working week trial kicks off in UK

6 Jun 2022
Pushing cloud AI closer to the edge
machine learning

Pushing cloud AI closer to the edge

1 Jun 2022

Most Popular

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security
Sponsored

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security

8 Aug 2022
How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

29 Jul 2022
Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS
cyber attacks

Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS

8 Aug 2022