Neural Networks Are Alarmingly Good at Identifying Blurred Faces

In a world of ubiquitous smart-phone cameras, drones, and Google Street View cars, there’s probably never been a more important time to start protecting the identities of people unwittingly captured in photos and videos. But while websites like YouTube have started offering tools to obscure faces and other objects appearing in digital media, researchers have found that those protections can be defeated at an alarming rate thanks to recent advances in artificial intelligence. In a paper released earlier this month, researchers at UT Austin and Cornell University demonstrate that faces and objects obscured by blurring, pixelation, and a recently-proposed privacy system called P3 can be successfully identified by a neural network trained on image datasets—in some cases at a more consistent rate than humans. “We argue that humans may no…


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