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1984's CCTV Systems now available at CeBIT

Yesterday I went to CeBIT, which is Europe's main IT-Fair. I didn't go alone but with my friends Tsia and Arno; Arno's brother was also there. So we went checking the booths out, a lot of them are more oriented towards IT professionals than people like me (I have to say that Tsia and Arno are IT professionals though). So obviously the first hall we were in was aimed at governments, companies that need security equipment and banks, they had stuff like money counting machines, e-Passport control gates and stuff like that.

Then we came near a booth, which had quite a lot of people in front of it. The first thing I noticed that they demoed a system that scans peoples fingerprints. Many people unreluctantly put their hands on the machine to have their fingerprints scanned, something, which I would have never done with my true fingerprints (if your interested in how to fake fingerprints tell me, maybe that’s some material for a future post). Who knows what the company does with the data - if it somehow would be leaked everyone could go out and commit crimes leaving your fingerprints. So I already thought that was quite scary.

But then I noticed the other thing they had on display: A "visitor management system" as they called it or an "automatic face recognition for CCTV system" as I would have called it, that also can tell you the age, gender and happiness of the people in the picture. They had a camera filming everyone in front of the booth and a big screen displaying the picture overlaid with the analysis of their software. I heard of such systems before and that they might be used to analyze material the police films at demonstrations afterwards. Really scary stuff, as it could be used to very easily identify everyone taking part in a demonstration and also to find out at which other demonstrations or other CCTV-covered places they were filmed. 1984 at it's best.

But notice that I said it could be used. The thing is really it can't be used for anything like that, because well let's say it's in reality very buggy software. It shows you how happy the person is, it's age with a big tolerance, gender, unique id and how long the person has been in the picture. I noticed that my gender jumped from male to female and back all the time and it was the same with the age. The only thing it got right most of the time is my happiness, e.g. it noticed the difference between a smiling and a sad face, but that’s really nothing new, because this technology is already used in customer products like compact digital cameras that shoot a picture when the people in the frame smile. But the best thing was that I could get a new id assigned to my face by shaking my head and hair around a bit. Not that scary, after all.

Don't Surround Yourself With Things You Love

On Exactly

I have seen people write "surround yourself with things you love" and I think it's terrible advice, kindly given. The notion is meant to convey that the things around you should be things that feel nice, that you enjoy. That your home should be full of what makes you feel cozy and happy. But as I pack my house for our upcoming move, taking down the remaining pieces of art that have survived the latest cull, I'm seeing how unproductive it is to surround yourself with things you love. You really can have too much of a good thing. Because with bare walls, I feel more peaceful in my house than when the walls were hung with what I loved.

If I were to make a list of what things I love in a home, it would look something like this:

On the contrary though, to make a list of what I love in life...well it's pretty different.

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