Kasumigaseki cameras

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To attempt to combat terrorism, Tokyo will install a facial recognition system at Kasumigaseki station, the subway stop nearest the seat of government.

The software, developed by NTT Communications was the hit of last week's Ministerial Conference on International Transport Security. The system can scan faces in just a few seconds and compare them to a database of known suspects. If someone matches, an alarm goes off. Starting in March, every passenger at Kasumigaseki will be photographed, scanned and compared.

This is a stupid waste of time and an invasion of privacy for citizens and visitors.

With half a second's thought if I were a terrorist, I'd use people not suspected - single-serving terrorists - or I'd go blow up locations other than stations. Of course, I suppose just getting around Tokyo without the trains and subways would be an inconvenience, but there are always taxis, rental cars and Shank's pony.

Face recognition is an interesting technology. At My Heritage is a slightly less rude use; you can upload your picture (or anyone's) and during their beta trial see which celebrities you look like. The idea is to develop a database for geneology but it's really rather lame. If you wear glasses, it finds other people wearing similar glasses. If your head is tilted or turned, most of the matches also have tilted or turned heads.

The results from my tests with this photo and this one, indicate I look like Anna Kournikova, Helen Clark, Scarlett Johansson, and Dustin Hoffman. Hmmmm.

I hope the Tokyo trials of the terrorist facial recognition system are more precise.

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I matched Imre Kertesz (who's that, Karol Gott (likewise?), Oliver Hardy, Dustin Hoffman, Roland Barthes, Vladmir Lenin, Omar Sharif and Martin Scorsese.

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  • Pete: I matched Imre Kertesz (who's that, Karol Gott (likewise?), Oliver read more