Algorithm Makes Tons of Tiny Changes to Photos to Defeat Facial Recognition Software


Researchers at the University of Chicago’s SAND Lab have developed a technology that they call Fawkes and it is capable of defeating facial recognition technology that relies upon an accurate picture of someone’s face.

Called Fawkes, the tech makes tiny changes to the photograph on the pixel level. The team behind it calls the result a “cloaked” photo.

As the researchers that developed the tech explained to the press, “You can then use these ‘cloaked’ photos as you normally would, sharing them on social media, sending them to friends, printing them or displaying them on digital devices, the same way you would any other photo.”

The goal underpinning the technology is simple: To make facial recognition tech that much harder to deploy. According to the SAND Lab researchers, Fawkes has a 100% success rate in breaking existing facial recognition tech.

“Fawkes is designed to significantly raise the costs of building and maintaining accurate models for large-scale facial recognition. If we can reduce the accuracy of these models to make them untrustable, or force the model’s owners to pay significant per-person costs to maintain accuracy, then we would have largely succeeded.”

Sounds like a pretty logical, if somewhat cyberpunk, move to us. Best of all is that it is open source and free to use. That's a real boon for privacy advocates and those concerned about the rise of facial recognition software all over the place.

You can watch a video explaining it right here.

And you can try it out for yourself by clicking here.

What do you think of this method to break facial recognition technology? Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments section below if you like.

Be sure to check out our other photography news articles on Light Stalking by clicking here.


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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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