How to trick facial recognition & lie to your smartphone

Research shows that we all tell white lies, but have we reached the day when technology and our smart devices are so smart that we need to trick them into believing a lie? I ran across a couple of interesting tidbits such as how to trick Facebook's facial recognition software by applying makeup and how to lie to your smartphone.

FrogDesign reported that during SXSW, Intel's Genevieve Bell asked how honest should we want our smart devices to be? In talking about smart devices being context aware, she said, "today's devices blurt out the absolute truth as they know it. A smart device [in the future] might know when NOT to blurt out the truth. They would know when to withhold information."

Bell added that humans tell between 2 to 200 lies a day. Then behavioral economist Dan Ariely revealed that humans have a "fudge factor" where they can be dishonest but still consider themselves to be honest based on context and consequence. Such as a "white lie" where someone you care about gets a wretched haircut, but to avoid hurting their feelings, you tell them it looks good. Yet sometimes in experiments when cheating was rewarded, Ariely discovered that people hit the "what the hell" point and start cheating all the time.

Will our smart devices ever get smart enough to understand human dishonesty and be able to accurately replicate its user's white lies? Other research has shown that we most often tell lies over the phone. Nowadays, a smartphone can know where you are by GPS and Apple has patented technology to recognize your heartbeat. Could there come a day when you tell a lie like I'm running errands but in reality you are in couch-potato-mode watching a movie and your phone translates your data trail and tells on you for lying? Are we close to the point where we would need to trick our phone into believing a lie?

Well Steffen Fiedler seems to have considered such surveillance by smart devices and came up with machines to fool context aware devices and services. As part of T-Mobile's e-Etiquette project, Fiedler created "instruments of politeness." Fiedler wrote, "At present we can lie about our current situation because the only transmitted information is the actual conversation and background noise. In the future mobile phones will be able to estimate our activity by evaluating multiple sensors in the device. This information will not only be used by the device itself but shared with our environment."

Fiedler explained that these machines can trick the sensors on our "aware" gadgets which enable the user to lie about his or her current activity. (Images used with permision)



The instruments of politeness can simulate the walking motion or more radical movements. In fact, there are shapes designed to trick your phone into thinking you are inactive, walking, running, cycling, nervous, or drunk at the bus stop.

In other bizarro tech news, if your problem is not a smartphone but more in line with facial recognition software, Adam Harvey has previously come up with face makeup, called CV Dazzle, that can beat Facebook's facial recognition bots. In "How to Hide from Machines" on DIS Magazine, it gives four guidelines like avoid enhancing key facial features; partially obscure the area where the nose, eyes and forehead intersect; partially obscure the area around the eyes; and lastly remain inconspicuous.


Although that is a cool concept, unless this makeup goes mainstream, it would be difficult to remain inconspicuous. You might get more attention, stared at more often, if you go out in public like that? 

Will we really reach a point when we were need to trick technology into believing lies?

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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