Patent awarded for “behavioral recognition” surveillance software system
By End the Lie
The American surveillance state is becoming increasingly advanced, expansive and capable of processing huge amounts of data at blinding speeds.
Now Behavioral Recognition Systems, Inc., also known as BRS Labs, has developed an artificial intelligence-based system which supposedly can automatically recognize human behavior.
Technology which seems similar on the surface already exists and is being used on surveillance platforms like the “Intellistreets” street lights.
These street lights, which are outfitted with a great deal of surveillance equipment, are reportedly capable of monitoring activity and telling the difference between certain behaviors while also being able to tell the difference between humans and animals.
This technology could be used to enforce curfews, track the movement of individuals, and supposedly spot fights and other crimes.
However, BRS Labs’ technology, which was awarded U.S. patent number 8,131,012 (go here if link doesn’t open properly) by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to Government Security News, seems to blow that older system out of the water.
This is because previous technologies relied on specific rules put in place by human operators, whereas the new system relies on “reason-based video surveillance behavior recognition software.”
This patent is actually part of over 60 related U.S. patents which are currently either pending approval, in process or already granted, all of which are part of the “AISight 3.0” video surveillance software system.
“The video surveillance technology we have invented is distinctly and materially different from the simple recognition capabilities found in video analytics solutions currently available from a number of vendors in the physical security market,” president of BRS Labs, John Frazzini, said in a news release.
“Generally speaking, video analytics software receives video data from cameras and issues alerts based on very specific and narrowly defined human programmed rules that have failed to provide operational value in the video surveillance market,” Frazzini said. “In strong contrast to those limited and deteriorating solutions, the patented technology of BRS Labs does not require any human pre-programmed rules, thereby providing an inherently scalable enterprise class software platform to the video surveillance market.”
Indeed, if this technology works as it is supposed to, this is a major step up from previous software, and it could increase the ability to accurately monitor and track the activity of individuals.
The major difference in this new technology is that it can actually allow computers to autonomously learn behavioral patterns, thus being able to determine what behaviors could be considered unusual. The system can then warn security personnel about the allegedly unusual or suspicious behavior.
BRS Labs’ system uses standard streams from surveillance cameras, which means that the cost to roll out such systems would be relatively minimal.
The behavioral recognition system takes the video stream then detects and tracks subjects, characterizes their appearances and other properties, then classifies them and automatically learns their behavioral patterns.
The system then stores those patterns and thus can recognize behaviors which differ from the established behavior patterns. When the system detects a divergence, it alerts the user of those events in real time.
“These advancements would not have been possible ten or fifteen years ago because science didn’t adequately understand how the human brain models and manipulates data, and there wasn’t enough computer power to get the job done,” said Dr. Wesley Cobb, chief science officer at BRS Labs.
“Now, computers are exponentially faster and we have been successful in developing a method and system for analyzing and learning behavior based on acquired streams of video frames,” Dr. Cobb added. “This was an extremely difficult technical problem to solve, and to our knowledge, no other company has been able to approximate or duplicate what we have done.”
BRS Labs reportedly has many other patents in the works which seem to focus on artificial intelligence as applied to surveillance.
While companies might see this as a great cost-saving measure since it could reduce the number of people who have to sit and physically watch the surveillance monitors, if it is used in law enforcement I see many potential problems.
Much like so-called threat assessment technology, or malintent detection technology, this could erroneously flag behaviors as unusual or suspicious, thus resulting in individuals being treated as if they are criminals when they very well might not be.
All of this serves to erode the entire concept of innocent until proven guilty as people are marked as suspicious persons or displaying unusual behavior without any proof of wrongdoing.
After one is labeled as such, they are often treated like they did something wrong, even if there is absolutely no evidence of any illegal activities.
Personally, I see this as a dangerous trend which hopefully will be reversed, however, the growth of the surveillance industry does not show any sign of slowing down any time soon, so I’m not holding my breath just yet.
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