Confusion Camouflage: Disguise in the 21st C.


You’ve heard about the surveillance state, but what about a surveillance society? One where it’s not just the government with an eye on you, but everyone else too. That security camera at the corner store, the red light cam at the intersection, the teens on the bus sending snaps, and even your friends uploading a night on the town to Facebook; each are a single neuron in a slowly growing brain getting smarter by the day. It’s not just that 1984 got it wrong, it’s that it lacked a large enough imagination. In the public sphere, this summer the FBI will introduce its Next Generation Identification (NGI) biometrics database, a massive overhaul of the previous fingerprint-only system which will collect “iris scans, palm prints, face-recognition-ready photos, and voice data”  and make that data widely available to state and federal agencies. On the private side, Facebook is near to perfecting their own face-processing software using a deep learning AI which improves itself by feeding on bulk data. DeepFace is for now only a research project, all that effort spent  just so they can make auto-tagging quicker, but the potential applications boil over from there. The data vacuum that looms over the online world is intruding on the physical with an appetite for the metadata of flesh, and adapting to it won’t be as easy as using a TOR client or proxy. The collection of real world bulk data is even spawning its own field of academia, Social Physics, which envisions a kind of real-time census of citizen data. The question left to be answered then is how can one opt-out, if only temporarily, from such a system. How can we fool machine eyes, eyes of algorithms and determinism, instead of human ones? The answer may lie in abandoning the old methods of concealment and adapting all new methods of confusion. 

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