Whether it’s online or offline commercial organisations and government institutions are increasingly stripping away our privacy with little regard for the implications or moral consequences, now fringe actors are trying to fight back.


You know that you are tracked online. You may also know that any institution on Earth willing to pay for it could get access to at least 450 unique data points about you, your life, your family, your friends and almost everyone you’ve ever come into contact with – no matter how sparingly, and that from that they’d be able to put together a scarily accurate profile. And, in some cases governments such as China are now pooling this information to create societal “score card” systems.


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What you might not know though is just how your offline behaviours are now being monitored and tracked. Sure, facial recognition is the one most people know about but I know organisations who can grab your brainwaves, emotions, fingerprints, iris scans, speech and much more besides at a distance of at least a hundred feet and use the information from them to steal your darkest secrets, and let’s not start talking about persistent surveillance systems. If you think your privacy is under threat today then it’s nothing compared with what’s coming down the line.

As a consequence it’s not surprising that some people are trying to fight back against our commercial and institutional “surveillance culture,” and personally, whether you’re freaked out or not about it all I at least think you have the right to be informed. What you do with that information afterwards is your business.

Berlin based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face.

This is not the first time Harvey has tried to confuse facial recognition software. During a previous project, CV Dazzle, he attempted to create an aesthetic of makeup and hairstyling that would cause machines to be unable to detect a face.

“As I’ve looked at in an earlier project, you can change the way you appear, but, in camouflage you can think of the figure and the ground relationship. There’s also an opportunity to modify the ‘ground’, the things that appear next to you, around you, and that can also modify the computer vision confidence score,” he said, speaking at the Chaos Communications Congress hacking conference in Hamburg last week, “by overloading an algorithm with what it wants, over saturating an area with faces to divert the gaze of the computer vision algorithm we can confuse it.”



The resulting patterns, which Harvey created in conjunction with international interaction studio Hyphen La

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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