from the flexible-principles dept.
The facial recognition company Clearview AI is telling investors it is on track to have 100 billion facial photos in its database within a year, enough to ensure "almost everyone in the world will be identifiable," according to a financial presentation from December obtained by The Washington Post.
Those images — equivalent to 14 photos for each of the 7 billion people on Earth — would help power a surveillance system that has been used for arrests and criminal investigations by thousands of law enforcement and government agencies around the world.
And the company wants to expand beyond scanning faces for the police, saying in the presentation that it could monitor "gig economy" workers and is researching a number of new technologies that could identify someone based on how they walk, detect their location from a photo or scan their fingerprints from afar.
The 55-page "pitch deck," the contents of which have not been reported previously, reveals surprising details about how the company, whose work already is controversial, is positioning itself for a major expansion, funded in large part by government contracts and the taxpayers the system would be used to monitor.
The document was made for fundraising purposes, and it is unclear how realistic its goals might be. The company said that its "index of faces" has grown from 3 billion images to more than 10 billion since early 2020 and that its data collection system now ingests 1.5 billion images a month.
It's a long-format story that is very-well-supported and worth reading in its entirety.
Clearview AI's co-founder Hoan Ton-That recently defended his startup's use of controversial facial recognition software:
If you're skeptical about whether your company will ever use facial recognition technology as a business tool, you're not alone. Perhaps the most prominent facial recognition technology provider in the world, Clearview AI, has attracted significant criticism and raised ethical concerns even as it has been used by law enforcement.
In a live interview with the Washington Post last week, New York-based Clearview AI's co-founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That addressed questions about the ethical and legal implications of his software, which became first known to many Americans when a billionaire used it to identify his daughter's dinner date, and for the involvement of far-right individuals in the creation of the company. Pressed on questions about the legal and ethical choices his firm has made while creating a searchable database of 20 billion facial images, Ton-That repeatedly brought up examples where the use cases of Clearview AI's technology would look better in the public eye, mentioning its use in helping catch criminals in child pornography and child abuse cases. Ton-That also pointed to the use of Clearview AI's technology by the Ukrainian government to identify dead Russian soldiers, for notifying their families of their passing.
While Clearview AI has some 20 billion facial images to feed its current product, the dataset is being used only by governments so far. "There's no non-governmental use of this dataset at this time," Ton-That said, adding that "we've developed as prototypes different versions of our technology for retail and banking."
Ton-That went on to say he welcomes regulation and his company will not do business with governments he described as "authoritarian."
Originally spotted on The Eponymous Pickle.
Ukraine Reportedly Adopts Clearview AI to Track Russian Invaders
Italy Slaps Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI With €20 Million Fine
Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI Tells Investors: It's Seeking Massive Expansion
France Has Ordered Clearview AI to Delete its Facial Recognition Data
US Government Agencies Plan to Increase Their Use of Facial Recognition Technology
And many more