Facebook is Researching an AI System, That Could Potentially Turn its Users Into Walking Surveillance Machines


Our lives are slowly feeling more and more like an episode right out of Netflix’s Black Mirror, precisely ‘The Entire History of You’ (S1, E3).

This episode shows that soon people shall never forget a face again. Everyone has access to a memory implant that records everything they do, see, and hear; every action they do is recorded and may be played back.

Facebook, the same company which was involved in the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, which collected personal data belonging to millions of Facebook users without their consent by British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, predominantly used for political advertising; is researching a similar AI system that sees, hears, and remembers everything that you do.

A new research project led by Facebook’s AI team is researching an AI system that will constantly analyze people’s lives using first-person video. Recording everything that they see, do, and hear to help them with everyday tasks with a series of skills, including –

  • Episodic memory: What happened when (e.g., “Where did I leave my wallet?”)?
  • Forecasting: What am I likely to do next (e.g., “Wait, you’ve already added sugar to this recipe”)?
  • Hand and object manipulation: What am I doing (e.g., “Teach me how to play the guitar”)?
  • Audio-visual diarization: Who said what & when (e.g., “What was the main topic during class?”)?
  • Social interaction: Who interacts with whom (e.g., “Help me better hear the person talking to me at this noisy restaurant”)?

At the moment, no AI has the capabilities listed above. Right now, AI systems would find tackling any of these problems challenging, but creating datasets and benchmarks are tried-and-tested methods to spur development in the field of AI, and Facebook is doing exactly this.

Facebook partnered with 13 universities around the world to collect the data. This helped create an enormous dataset, with some 3,205 hours of footage recorded by 855 participants living in nine different countries. The universities were responsible for collecting the data. Participants wore GoPro cameras and AR glasses to record videos of unscripted activity, some of whom were paid. This ranges from construction work to baking to playing with pets and socializing with friends.

Also Read: Facebook Reveals its First Smart Glasses In Collaboration with Ray-Ban

Such an AI system would have massive privacy implications. Privacy experts are already worried about how Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses allow the wearers to record public members covertly.

Ray-Ban Stories Glasses
Ray-Ban Stories Glasses

Such concerns will only be gravely increasing if future versions of the hardware record footage and analyze and transcribe it, potentially turning wearers into walking surveillance machines.

Do you think that we are living in a dystopia where privacy is dead? Let us know in the comments below. Until then, stay tuned to Oyprice and subscribe to our YouTube channel for regular news and updates.

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