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Slashback: Counterstrike, Identification, Patenxtortion 357

Posted by timothy
from the joining-the-spider-man-herd dept.
Slashback has updates tonight on the fate of Counterstrike in Germany, PanIP's lawsuit-happy past, and facial recognition software's spotty results so far. Go on, read more!

False negatives, false positives, anda false sense of assurance. coryboehne writes: "TechNews has a report on the face recognition system installed at the Palm Beach Internation Airport early results of face-recognition surveillance suggest the technology is proving once again to be unreliable.

The ACLU said the first four weeks of testing at the Palm Beach airport showed the technology was "less accurate than a coin toss." The system matched the faces of the volunteers just 455 out of 958 times, or about 47 percent of the time.

Seems to me that this is a controlled environment for the most part, and still they have problems this big? I wonder if this technology will ever be accurate enough to work properly. I suppose the biggest problem is the size of the database that would be necessary to hold the high quality pictures necessary for accurate identification.

However I must admit that I am rather glad that this is'nt working yet as I'm not too sure I even like the idea of being able to digitally locate and track anyone within range of a camera."

This is what's meant by "repeat offender." Audent writes: "Following on from this story on Slashdot about PanIP's nasty habits, InfoWorld is running a story about it all.

To quote from the story about PanIP's boss:

'These lawsuits aren't the first time that PanIP principal Lawrence Lockwood has initiated legal proceedings against companies he felt were infringing his patents. Lockwood filed a lawsuit against American Airlines in 1994, claiming that American's SABREvision airline reservation system infringed on other patents he holds. Lockwood lost the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and then lost again on appeal in 1997.'
He's since had a bunch of patents disallowed. He's obviously learned from his earlier 'mistake' and is only going for the smaller companies.

Kick his ass I say. Disclaimer: I work for IDG Comms in New Zealand)."

Temporary sanity. CyberQ writes: "Some news from Germany on the censorship front: Despite demands from prominent politicians the responsible Federal Authority decided today not to ban the sale of Counterstrike to minors [Link in German, use the fish]. This came after weeks of public discussion following a school shooting by a student who apparently trained by playing CS."

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Slashback: Counterstrike, Identification, Patenxtortion

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  • by mestreBimba (449437) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:04PM (#3533620) Homepage
    leads to violent children is bogus.

    It's logic like this (from my discreet math days)...

    1)Penguins are black and white
    2)Old TV shows are black and white
    3)Therefore some penguins are old TV shows.
    • by bobdehnhardt (18286) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:15PM (#3533673)
      Or my prefered example:

      Fire is hot
      I am hot
      Therefore, I am on fire.

      Now, this is utterly ridicul AAAAAlIIIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!
    • by FyRE666 (263011) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:19PM (#3533688) Homepage

      leads to violent children is bogus.

      Damn right! I've played video games since I could reach the coin-slot on a Pacman machine. I'd love to meet some of the people making these unfounded allegations linking the games to violence. I'd give them such a savage beating they'd never say it again! Let's see how they'd like a few smart bombs up their asses! I'll frag the lot of them! Kill them, kill them all!!!AAARRGGHHHHHHH!!!

      ;-)
      • Nahhh.... (Score:3, Funny)

        by kyletinsley (575229)

        Damn right! I've played video games since I could reach the coin-slot on a Pacman machine.

        Nahhh... if Pacman had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms munching pills and listening to electronic music. Oh wait...

    • Actually it's you logic that is bogus. Your attempt to apply simple logic games to a complex issue is amusing, but no better than anyone who believes the original concept purely from the standpoint of "logic". This can not be "disproved" by x -> y -> z -> x as much as we'd like to think so. The overarching question is "is the exposure to violence more likely to make on exhibit that trait". Now tell me how your simplified logic is supposed to lend even the slightest bit of insight into trying to answer that question. Fact is we're talking human behaviour here, not simple "facts".

      I know I'll problably get modd'ed down for this, and let me say that I don't believe in the blanket statement that "watching violent tv/playing violent video games makes for violent children". It's just that seeing such simple minded logic applied to counter what the author claims is simple minded logic is annoying. It's almost like the athiest saying "since there is evil/suffering in the world, god can not exist", brilliant.
    • Premise: Alexander the Great had an infinite number of arms.

      Proof:

      1. Alexander the Great was a great general.
      2. Great generals are forewarned.
      3. To be forewarned is to be fore-armed
      4. Four is an odd number of arms for a person to have
      5. Four is an even number
      6. The only number that can be both even and odd is infinity
      Conclusion: Therefore, Alexander the Great had an infinite number of arms.
  • by dupper (470576) <adamlouis@gmail.com> on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:05PM (#3533623) Journal
    Counter-Strike is horrible training. Imagine the inefficiency in a real-life situation stemming from wall-hack paranoia.
  • bans don't work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by linuxislandsucks (461335) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:08PM (#3533635) Homepage Journal
    you would think by now germany would know better..

    Bans don't work in the long run ..

    Fro example the ban on nazism in Germany forced everything underground in which the German police have to expend more hours than otherwise to keep track and monitor theri actions..if they weren't banned everyone woudl know what they are doing due to the fact that they woudl be out in the open in public view..

    • Re:bans don't work (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Heghta' (246911)
      I don't think you really know what you are talking? Well, living some what, 5 miles from the border to Germany, I may be able to give you some insight.


      The banning of computer games is in no way anywhere close to the banning of nazism.

      The banning of games is handled by an institution called BPjS/BPjM. If they think a game is too brutal, violent shows too much blood etc, it will be banned from sale to minors, banned from advertisement, and banned from being displayed in shops. It is then more or less dead, and all the minors download a copy from the net or order it abroad. So yes. Stupid institution.


      2) As for nazism. This is a Law in Germany, and this law was actually imposed by the USA after WWII. So whether banning nazism works or not, it was the decision of the USA.

      now... you would think by now the USA would know better...

    • Re:bans don't work (Score:5, Interesting)

      by at-b (31918) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @09:10PM (#3533882) Homepage

      you would think by now germany would know better..

      Bans don't work in the long run ..

      Fro example the ban on nazism in Germany forced everything underground in which the German police have to expend more hours than otherwise to keep track and monitor theri actions..if they weren't banned everyone woudl know what they are doing due to the fact that they woudl be out in the open in public view..


      I'm not sure how much you know about Germany; for all I know, you may be German yourself. Whilst I am German, and whilst I don't support bans on violent games, I honestly believe that banning the open display of Nazi symbols, the Hitler salute, and the organization of radical fascist parties is a good thing.

      Right now, 20 people will jump on that statement and scream that bans don't help, that you need to have everything out in the open, that it's great and fabulous to have radicals integrated into society, etc.

      And that's all fabulous. And wrong. The Nazis in Germany came to power through democratic means. Although behind-the-scenes wrangling happened that ultimately allowed Hitler to become Chancellor without a genuine popular mandate, the NSDAP was one of the most, if not the most popular party in 1933. Through democratic means. They then used the democratic mandate they'd gained without illegal means to dismantle the Weimar Republic. (France allowed the National Front to enter local governments here and there, and local councils in certain regions of France have already seen an alarming rise in incidents where radical right-wingers successfully removed a variety of critical works from public libraries, critical newspapers from circulation, etc. Critical of their neo-fascist tactics that restrict democratic expression, mind you. Of course someone will go on about how ironic it is that it is those very fascist who are banning things, just like Germany is banning stuff, but they need a serious reality check.)

      That's why radical groups are banned. That's why they have to operate underground. That's why Germany is quite keen to ban 'ideas' (I can hear the flames already) and things that are 'dangerous'.

      Because people in general are easily seduced by things that make them feel good about themselves. Hitler told Germans that they were special and superior.

      Thus, you want to make sure that radical groups that want to dismantle democracy are not allowed a popular mandate. You do not want to legitimize them by allowing them to exist in the public sphere. You do not want to allow them to become coalition partners, to enter local governments, and to slowly subvert and destroy freedom, tolerance, and democracy.

      Because that's what they want.

      And they're not going to get it. We've been there, we're not going back. We like democracy, we like freedom, we like being able to say whatever we want without being locked up, we don't want to be herded into camps because of our racial distinctions or religious beliefs, and we sure as fuck don't want to let radicals who want to destroy all of that back into the limelight.

      So go on all you want about 'bans are bad!' and 'information wants to be free!'. Naivety will only get you so far, and jackbooted thugs will exploit all of it quite happily while you sit there letting them take away everything you hold dear.

      Alex
      St Andrews

      See also my earlier comments at:
      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=23633&cid =2549 958
      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=23633&cid =2550 035
      • by gilroy (155262) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:46PM (#3534356) Homepage Journal
        Blockquoth the poster:

        We've been there, we're not going back. We like democracy, we like freedom, we like being able to say whatever we want without being locked up

        ... except pro-Nazi things, apparently... and that's the irony, and that's the problem: a faux respect for democratic opinion, unless it is the "wrong" one. I'm not German, and I cannot really prescribe to Germans how to handle this tension in democracy. But I am an American, and without being too jingoistic, I think we get this one right: Allow a free market of ideas. Don't allow the government, or the moral minority, or "the People" to legislate that some ideas are "wrong". Let them all fight it out. Because I believe in democracy and in the basic dignity of humankind (both possibly ludicrous beliefs, but hey...), I also believe that the right and the true will triumph.


        This isn't mealy-mouthed bleeding-heart East Coast liberalism. It's a hard-eyed view drawn from the history of a free people: The only cure for darkness is light -- it's never more darkness.


        If a people is presented with the neo-Nazi thugs and the radical idiocies, and given the chance to honestly evaluate them, and still fall for them... well, there is no power in Heaven or on Earth that keep such a people free. If they cannot be trusted to see through this propaganda, then they cannot possibly be protected from it. And no well-intentioned political elite is ever going to safeguard them from their own democratic process.


        People are free, or they are not. They are not made free by the actions of someone else; they are free by the strength of their commitment to freedom. Let the idiots, the racists, the radicals bray and howl. I know that a free and educated people will rise above that, will see them for the sham they are, will cast them back into the darkness and ooze from which they crawled.

        • Changing the topic back to the original - in Australia Grand Theft Auto 3 was banned - it just made it more popular. In fact every game hat's been banned has seen an upsurge in sales whether it's any good or not.
      • What you are saying is that the way to prevent the subversion of freedom and democracy is to subvert freedom and democracy? The nazis came to power because Germany was in terrible shape after World War I. They were impoverished and they were looking for any solution. They wanted somebody to blame, a new direction to go. It has little to do with the specific message of nazism, it has far more to do with the state of the society they lived in.

        This scene has played out in history time and time again. Desperate people do stupid things, and they will back insane radicals because they've got little to lose. Do you really think that if nazism was allowed to show it's head in public they would actually gain significant power? My supicion is that if it came out into the open, the nazism would face a backlash from people who now don't worry about it because it's all underground.

        Granted, I don't live in Germany. Perhaps I'm seriously underestimating the tendancies of the german citizenry. My sense is that without some reason to drive them to the false promises of nazism, they'll just push nazism to the margins where it belongs.
        • My supicion is that if it came out into the open, the nazism would face a backlash from people who now don't worry about it because it's all underground.

          Excellent point.

          An example of this very idea: Jean-Marie Le Pen would have been a forgotten nobody had he lost to Jospin. However, Le Pen won, and look at the affect this had: immense protests in the streets, by both left-wingers and right-wingers. People actually took the guy seriously, which meant that they spread word of his ideas. Once these ideas were recognized as overtly fascist, he was recognized for the demagogue that he was and he lost in the most decisive vote in French history.

      • An interesting viewpoint, and a valid one. Also frightening. Because it makes you an enemy of democracy unaware. The most dangerous kind of enemy is the one who thinks he is your friend.

        Your indictment is in your own words. Democracy is lost in degrees, piece by piece. It is slowly subverted. Critical works removed from libraries? Works like Mein Kampf, perhaps? But that is the work of an enemy. Today, the Nazis are the enemy. Who tomorrow? Those who are not neo-Nazis but think Mein Kampf should not be banned? If the people listened to them (like they did the Nazis), then the ban would be lifted on Mein Kampf and neo-Nazis, and then the Nazis would be free to influence the people. It makes sense, doesn't it? But it is just another small subversion of democracy. And once that step is taken, then what? Your enemies begin to spring up all around you, and they must be banned.

        Do you understand? Suppressing undemocratic speech is undemocratic. To protect what you love, you become what you hate and thus lose what you love. But you never notice, because you didn't really love it, you loved what you wanted it to be. You are an enemy of democracy. But I won't cry out to anyone to keep you from speaking.

        But before I wax too crappily poetic, let me get down to some pragmatism: I'm not German, nor a history expert, but I feel I am not speaking in ignorance when I say that there was a lot more happening in Germany in the thirties that allowed the Nazis rise to power than just them being allowed to speak. Do you really think that a people that supported the outright banning of Nazism would be swayed by their speech if they were allowed to talk? Is it that you personally are afraid that you'd be too weak to resist their lies if you but heard them? My, it sounds to me like you have more than legitimized them.

        The US does have some experience with this. There was a time where Communists were the worst enemy imaginable, and they were suppressed with savageness. I think most would agree that this was a time where democracy was weakened, not strengthened.
        • Works like Mein Kampf, perhaps? But that is the work of an enemy. Today, the Nazis are the enemy. Who tomorrow?

          Mein Kampf has been banned in Germany for 57 years. Either provide an example of a non-Nazi point of view which has been banned during that period or admit that your slippery slope argument is without empirical foundation.

      • by rossz (67331)
        The German people like to say they were "seduced" by Hitler, that they didn't really know what he was all about. That's not true. They knew exactly what he was about. The people of Germany gave him the opportunity to take power, and he took it. Of course, the people were desperate for a change, any change. Their country was in shambles. They needed a scapegoat and a hero. Hitler pointed to Jews and other "undesirables" as the cause, and himself as the hero to fix everything and return Germany to its former glory. The people of Germany jumped at the opportunity.

        Stop trying to make excuses for your country's evil past. You have no excuse. Stop trying to say it wasn't your fault. It was your fault.
        • Re:bans don't work (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday May 17, 2002 @04:47AM (#3535720) Homepage Journal
          Stop trying to make excuses for your country's evil past. You have no excuse. Stop trying to say it wasn't your fault. It was your fault.

          This is insightful?

          Are you responsible for the slave trade? Are you responsible for the genocide against Native Americans? What is the moral distinction between genocide against Native Americans and genocide against Jews?

          Every nation has in its history events of shocking and unforgivable inhumanity. But no-one now posting on Slashdot took part in the massacre at Wounded Knee [ibiscom.com]; no-one now posting on Slashdot guarded the camp at Balsen [auschwitz.dk].

          The United States is guilty of genocide, yes. Germany is guilty of genocide, yes. Individual Americans and Germans posting to Slashdot today are not guilty of genocide.

          So it is not his fault.

      • Re:bans don't work (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Permission Denied (551645) on Friday May 17, 2002 @12:48AM (#3534981) Journal

        I've read Mein Kampf. I went to a prestigious private university in the US where this was required reading in our Western Civilizations course. (In the US, all the top universities force all their students to go through certain "core" classes, which means that engineers have to take humanities courses and poets have to take calculus.) While your culture may remember why Mein Kampf is banned in Germany, ours doesn't. I didn't understand hatred until I read Hitler; I didn't understand racial superiority until I read Nietzsche. To be honest, I still don't quite understand it, but I can now recognize how it starts.

        When unemployed programmers post to slashdot to complain about how all the jobs are being taken by Indians with H-1B visas, I recognize the danger. Although I'm extremely pissed at the job market right now, I know I have to control these feelings, which are absolutely no different from those of the French who voted for Le Pen, hoping to ameliorate the "immigration situation."

        We are all taught tolerance, but in some cases, intolerance is more moral. Without the free dilution of ideas, how am I supposed to know what to tolerate and what not to tolerate? I may have joined in with those slashdotters complaining about "Indians taking our jobs" had I not read Le Pen recently - remember, I was already pissed. I was, however, able to see how they were putting forth the exact same arguments as Le Pen, and I realized the direction in which they were headed.

        You've pointed out that Germans are less likely to stand up for unimpeded speech out of idealism, but rather deal with the issue out of sheer pragmatism. How does one learn hatred? I say it can only come about after immense propaganda and repetition. You do not suddenly go from toleration to hatred by listening to one speech or reading one book; it takes years of "brainwashing," for lack of a better term. When an open-minded people learn to recognize hidden hatred agendas and the same fascist arguments, rather than continue listening, they turn their heads in disgust.

        The fascists always use the same arguments and the same methods: they won't tell you about their agenda of hatred outright, at least not right away. First, they instill outrage. They'll start off by demonstrating the "collapse" of a nation, economically and morally. They'll appeal to unemployed and the under-employed. The second step is an appeal to history: they'll explain how great the nation was in the past, and how it's now falling apart. The third and final step is to lay the blame on a minority.

        Some examples of these methods: the American white supremacists begin with an anti-affirmitive action agenda. They attempt to show how the qualified are losing jobs to the less-qualified simply out of race. The second step of the American white supremacist is to identify himself with American history: here, you'll find lots of flag-waving. A few years ago, I encountered an advertisement for a KKK rally. What I found particularly of note was that they stated only certain flags would be allowed at the rally, including the flag of the Vatican (Holy See) and the American flag. Their third step involves crime statistics about inner-city black youth. By this point, the agenda is clear.

        When slashdot ran that story about the H-1B visas a week ago, I recognized step one. One person in particular was already at step three. I saw the progression and I closed my browser.

        Now, from where did I recognize this progression? Did I originally see this in American white supremacist propaganda? Did I see this in Le Pen's anti-immigration ideas?

        I originally saw this in Mein Kampf, in the part where Hitler explains his blue-collar days in Vienna. Did the anti-Indian slashdotters read Mein Kampf? I'm willing to wager that they didn't. It didn't take openly fascist literature to plant the start of hatred, but it did take fascist literature for me to recognize it. Read these posts [slashdot.org] carefully, and then read about Hitler's description of his working days in Vienna, and tell me what you find. It's quite disturbing.

        You linked to some of your previous posts which make some interesting points. I'll reciprocrate: this [slashdot.org] regarding freedom of speech and this [slashdot.org] regarding the limits of democracy. You'll note from the context that not only are certain people willing to forcefully silence extremists, but they are also willing to forcefully silence those who would disagree with the extremists and yet stand up for the extremists' right/privilege to speak.

        • Re:bans don't work (Score:3, Informative)

          by moebius_4d (26199)
          Your "prestigious private university" apparently didn't facilitate you acquisition of any critical reading skills. You will not find in Nietzsche any doctrine of racial superiority. The fact that the Nazis used his work to try to justify their ideas does not mean that his work contained the seeds of their ideas, but rather that his aphorisms, taken out of context, could be used by them as "sound bites". For example, "the will to power" is a central concept of Nietzsche's thought. But it is complex. (Nietzsche invented the concept of sublimation - check your Freud, he gives credit.) But the PHRASE "the will to power" is simple, and can make a powerless and frustrated group very excited. That's about the level of Nietzsche you can find in Nazism. If you will trouble yourself to read Nietzsche, you will find a brilliant psychological philosopher with a firm grasp of history, a true free-thinker, and a man who found German nationalism quite repulsive, and said so.
          • You will not find in Nietzsche any doctrine of racial superiority..

            This is completely wrong. Read The Genealogy of Morals again. Note where Nietzsche introduces the Jewish race and what purpose Jews serve throughout this essay. Jews are the "slave race" whereas Romans are the "master race." I don't care what point he's trying to make by using this as an example; there is no way that the conclusion can be considered non-racist in any way.

            Geneology of Morals, Essay 2, section 7: pain did not hurt as much as it does now; at least that is the conclusiona doctor may arrive at who has treated Negroes (taken as representatives of prehistoric man--)

            Essay 1, section 8: Did Israel not attain the ultimate goal of its sublime vengefulness precisely through the bypath of this "Redeemer" [Jesus]. Was it not the secret black art of truly rand politics of revenge ... that Israel must itself deny the real instrument of its revenge before all the world ... so that "all the world," namely all opponnents of Israel, could unhestatingly swallow just this bait?

            These aren't just "soundbytes" taken out of context; read the entire texts and you'll see they're quite in context.

            I'll note that I don't know any German and read Nietzsche in translation. I'll agree that there may be some danger to this, and I try to read the original text whenever I know the language (which would be for French, Italian and English).

            When we discussed Nietzsche in class, the professor was trying to downplay this anti-semitism. I didn't push too hard on it, as it wasn't central to the issue at hand, but the only response I received was that Nietzsche hated Christians as well. However, that does not matter: anti-semites are not necessarily Christians. You can hate Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus, but that still means you hate Jews.

            Basically, this is how I see it: Nietzsche had some important new ideas, so he should be studied. However, he was also anti-semitic and racist. That doesn't matter: the apologists attempt to show that Nietzsche was not anti-semitic in order to convince others to study his ideas. A lot of people (especially Americans) will completely discard someone's writing if they find that person racist. Not me; I'm willing to consider Nietzsche's words and ideas in and of themselves.

            Nietzsche was racist. Get over it. The people who can't get past this fact and stop reading and listening when they see a few racist words are not worth considering.

          • Funny, I am wearing my Tshirt right now that on the front says "GOD IS DEAD" - Nietzsche


            On the back it says "NIETZSCHE IS DEAD." -God


            Cracks me up.


        • The fascists always use the same arguments and the same methods: they won't tell you about their agenda of hatred outright, at least not right away.


          Nor will a Democrat, nor will *anyone* who has enemies, because it would be detrimental to whatever cause you support.

          Saying "The Fascists do " without also understanding that *others* (say, "democrats", just to have anti-thesis to "Fascist") will *ALSO* do if they have to, is simply not an acceptable way to deal with this problem.

          If I were an anti-Democrat (okay, say I'm a Fascist) and I wanted to make it very difficult for my opponents to operate freely and openly, I'd start by doing things, or inciting others to do things, which would result in laws being enacted which *also* restrict my opponents abilities to do those things ...

          So, I don't want my opponent to be able to speak freely about me - fair enough, I use Free Speech against them.

          See what I'm getting at here?

          (Haven't had my coffee, I guess I'm not making much sense here yet...)

          First, they instill outrage. They'll start off by demonstrating the "collapse" of a nation, economically and morally.

          Fascists aren't the only ones that can do this, though they *should* be allowed to because to disallow them this right, is to disallow *everyone* the same right under a Democratic system.

          The more a nation enacts laws to prevent "Fascism", the more it *becomes* the thing it is trying to prevent.

          That old, and well-proven, Buddhist proverb comes to mind: "You become what you resist."

          They'll appeal to unemployed and the under-employed. The second step is an appeal to history: they'll explain how great the nation was in the past, and how it's now falling apart. The third and final step is to lay the blame on a minority.


          So? Democrats do this? Why does it make it any different if a Fascist can do it too?

          Fascists will do all of this, but then so will Democrats.

          You can't recognize a Fascist by the fact that they're doing any of the things you mentioned above, and to do so would be folly: you would be ignoring all of the *legitimate* originations of this nature by 'legitimate', non-Fascists...

      • I think banning Nazism doesn't address the biggest problem of the Nazi era. Fascism and racism have been led with many flags, it can speak to many different people in different ways.

        There's all this effort fighting the last battle, fighting against people who are all dead, who lost the war, whose plans have been revealed for what they are, who have been judged by all humanity. That's easy. It's anachronistic -- I can see why young people feel unjustly burdened by a guilt for actions they did not do.

        If Germany wants to do something, it should fight the next battle, not the one that came before. If you are worried about Neo-Nazis beating up immigrants, maybe you should ask why the government that wants to suppress the Neo-Nazis won't give those immigrants citizenship, even when they were born in Germany and lived their entire lives there. You should wonder about all the Germans who are thinking the same things, but wouldn't act in the same way -- there are more of them than there are Nazis.

        Even if you want to address Nazism, you could do it a whole lot better than banning material. I've heard that there's a very common personal mythology among Germans that parents and grandparents harbored Jews or otherwise resisted the Nazis, even though almost none of them did. Their parents probably wouldn't claim to if asked, but then it's probably easiest for people not to ask -- you are apparently not supposed to talk of such things, by rule of law. Do people admit that the only real resistence to the Nazis were the Communists (radicals at that)? Probably not, but I suppose that's incidental. It's more important to realize that there was not nearly enough resistence.

        Being passive and mainstream didn't help last time around, and whatever the next trial is being passive and mainstream won't help then either.

      • I honestly believe that banning the open display of Nazi symbols, the Hitler salute

        The motive is good, but the methods are fatally flawed. Banning the swastika will not prevent people rallying behind a symbol. Banning a hand gesture will not prevent people from expressing solidarity/support.

        We've been there, we're not going back.

        Banning Mein Kampf just means you don't know it when similar ideas appear in other books. These bans won't keep it from happening again. They make it harder to recognize when it comes in a different form.

        There will always be dangerous idiots in society. Let them rally behind the swastika so everyone else can know they are dangerous idiots. Better than having them camouflaged behind a new symbol.

        Banning the websites and free speech doesn't eliminate the idiots. It just makes them more active. They think they would have popular support "if only the pubic knew". Allowing the website and the idiots feel they are "getting the word out". And they also get to see that they aren't getting popular support.

        By allowing "evil" websites keeps people on their toes that it CAN happen. Each "evil" site prompts the creation of several sites opposing them, pointing out they are idiots.

        -
      • After catching up on my casual history reading lately, and learning quite a bit about the socialist and democratic struggles of the 19th century, I now know that this is a fairly common attitude historically. I was also appalled to learn how uncivilized and backward Europe was compared to America during the 19th century, which is very ironic considering the classic European snobbishness toward Americans...

        Historical note that applies later on: we (America) did not have a socialist revolution or the serious threat of one because our government was not in the business of squashing every lower-class worker who wanted better working conditions, or even--God forbid!--the vote. At the time, our government was in the business of handing out 40 acres to anyone who wanted to leave the Eastern factories and settle out west. And all those poor workers in America already had the vote. (Thank Ben Franklin for that. If Alexander Hamilton had gotten his way, the U.S. would have devolved into an oligarchy of rich landholders). Wonder why we had so much immigration from Europe during that period?

        That's why radical groups are banned. That's why they have to operate underground. That's why Germany is quite keen to ban 'ideas' (I can hear the flames already) and things that are 'dangerous'.

        The monarchs of Europe were also quite keen to ban dangerous ideas like "democracy", "freedom of the press", and "labor unions", too. Those ideas were dangerous--to dictators and absolutist monarchies. Again, this is history speaking.

        Because people in general are easily seduced by things that make them feel good about themselves. Hitler told Germans that they were special and superior.

        That is the classic excuse used by monarchs and oligarchs for not allowing democracy: the people will let themselves be seduced by bad ideas that might lead to chaos and violence. Of course, the real fear was that these ideas might lead to things like the rulers losing priviledges and power--which is, of course, Bad for Society. From their point of view.

        Which is to say, it is always the excuse of the elite: we know better than you, you are as children who are easily swayed by the candy in the store window and don't know what's best for you. Frankly, history has shown that so-called elites don't know what's best for anyone, either, and are just concerned with maintaining their own selfish privileges, and that the average adult is quite capable of minding his own affairs if he hasn't been deliberately made incapable of handling them by lack of education and forced dependence. (Which, BTW, is why Jefferson, et al, insisted that an educated citizenry was necessary for democracy to work).

        Now, I've never heard that Germans were uneducated, so what are you afraid that your neighbors might want or do, if they were allowed to hear about Nazis, or see a swastika?

        Thus, you want to make sure that radical groups that want to dismantle democracy are not allowed a popular mandate. You do not want to legitimize them by allowing them to exist in the public sphere. You do not want to allow them to become coalition partners, to enter local governments, and to slowly subvert and destroy freedom, tolerance, and democracy.

        Because that's what they want.

        What they want and what they get are two different things. I see a problem with the European approach: who decides which groups are "dangerous radicals"? The government? In that case, anyone who threatens the political class' privileges, perks, and position will be deemed a "radical", count on it. Popular opinion? Well, if so-called "radicals" are unpopular, they aren't much of a threat in a democracy, are they? OTOH, allowing the majority to decide who should be suppressed introduces you to the tyranny of the majority, aka mob rule.

        And they're not going to get it. We've been here, we're not going back. We like democracy, we like freedom, we like being able to say whatever we want without being locked up, we don't want to be herded into camps because of our racial distinctions or religious beliefs, and we sure as fuck don't want to let radicals who want to destroy all of that back into the limelight.

        But you will, if you keep going as you are. They won't call themselves Nazis, and they won't use swastikas, but they will re-appear, and they will be the guys telling you who are the "dangerous radicals" that need to be suppressed, which speech and ideas are too dangerous to be published, and so on. They will tell the people what they want to hear, and they will be "democratically" chosen, because they will have suppressed all those other, "dangerous" voices. And you will have helped them.

        So go on all you want about 'bans are bad!' and 'information wants to be free!'. Naivety will only get you so far, and jackbooted thugs will exploit all of it quite happily while you sit there letting them take away everything you hold dear.

        Let me tell you something: we have Nazis and Aryan supremacist radicals in America, too. In Germany, you ban them and try to suppress them, and they have become a significant underground movement in some circles, with a lot of people being sympathetic to their views. In America, they are perfectly free to publicize themselves, preach their views and run for public office, as long as they don't break any of the laws that apply to ALL citizens (murder, theft, fraud, assault, etc.). In America, we laugh at them and consider them a bunch of jerks, and they are nothing more than a fringe movement--and they certainly don't have the passive support of the police when they commit violence (as I have heard has happened with some cases of anti-immigrant attacks in East Germany). If they do something violent, we arrest their asses and thrown them in jail like any other criminal.

        Which method of dealing with radicals is working better?

  • Bah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CoCo Buckets (184480)
    Of course it was the game!!

    The fact that he somehow got a gun, got it into a supposedly secure area and shot people without his parents knowing he was disturbed is irrelevent as always.

    Bah!!

    I suppose we are lucky he wasn't using OGC 8.2..

    Was he bunny hopping??:)
  • Broken Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by nzkoz (139612)
    Of course most people probably know this, but the babelfish link should be: fish [altavista.com].

    The editor left out the http://
  • You'd think we'd have learned after that "Spider-Man" fiasco. ;o)
  • well... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jeffy124 (453342) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:13PM (#3533659) Homepage Journal
    From the poster: Seems to me that this is a controlled environment for the most part, and still they have problems this big? I wonder if this technology will ever be accurate enough to work properly.

    A similar story on Wired [wired.com] indicates higher match rates (90%) at airports in Dallas Boston. The maker of the recognition system speculates that lighting was a factor in the Palm Beach for the low match rate. 90% still a bad rate (better than 99.9% or something like that would be ideal), but it shows how differences of environment can affect these things.
    • The article says the system tests about 10,000 images a day. If a system had a 99.9% accuracy, that'd be 10 misidentifications a day.

      Granted, security personal and law enforcement can weed out 10 false positives a day, but even such a hypothetical system wouldn't be adequate for scanning everyone in a major city.

    • by David Jao (2759) <djao@dominia.org> on Friday May 17, 2002 @12:45AM (#3534969) Homepage
      A lot of people do not understand the fallacy of the false positive. A system like this with even a 99.9% accuracy rate is still almost useless.

      Suppose 1 out of 10000 people in the US are terrorists. This strikes me as an absurdly high ratio, but let's assume for the sake of argument that it is this high. This system claims to scan 10000 faces in one day. At that rate, it will catch one airport terrorist and nine innocent people per day.

      See something wrong here? I do.

      If we assume a more realistic ratio of 1 terrorist per 100000 people, then you end up catching 99 innocent people and 1 terrorist every 10 days. At this point the utility of the system looks very questionable indeed. And this is without even considering the ease of importing new terrorists that aren't in the system yet.

      I'm not that big a fan of face recognition technology in general, but airport terrorism is just about one of the absolute poorest possible applications of the idea.

      • > Suppose 1 out of 10000 people in the US are terrorists. This strikes me as an absurdly high ratio

        The US has a population of around 278 million people, and the system can only look for already known (or at least suspected) terrorists with a good photo already on file. (And it won't work if they disguise themselves, but we can assume any disguise raises the chance of a human observer feeling there is something wrong about a person enough to balance the probabilities to simplify things).

        Even 1 terrorist per 100000 people looks too high (a couple of thousand terrorists).

        Now if you can extend this to major non-terrorist criminals, and you are stopping and searching random people for Customs searches anyway (at an international airport), the slight improvement in probabilities might be worthwhile.

        Sucks for the poor guys who look similar to a wanted felon and now get searched every time instead of at random though.
  • odds.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eightball (88525)
    Correct me if I am wrong (and I am sure you will, thanks), but coin tossing is hardly comparable to facial recognition. The only thing the coin would have done is approximate the correctness.

    What the facial recognition software did was run approximately 1 in 1000 odds almost 50% of the time. If a medicine cut risks by 1000 times for half the people who took it, it would be a sensation.

    Of course, what people really care about is not inconveniencing innocents.. I think it is a bad tactical move for the ACLU to pick on these points. Eventually, computers will be so much faster that we will have a pretty good recognition system and they will be up a creek.

    • I think the ACLU is using some pretty lame statistics this time. (Claimer: I'm a member of the ACLU.) If the recognition software can get close to half right, then the system can notify a human who can take a closer look on the monitor. If it still looks like a match on the monitor, a plainclothes security guard can check in person. So, assuming the number of hits is manageable, the only false positives you'll get are those that humans make. Of course, you'll get more.

      I hate having public eyes everywhere now, but the statistical argument against them isn't going to work.

      • If the recognition software can get close to half right, then the system can notify a human who can take a closer look on the monitor.

        The article stated the system matched 47 percent of the time, indicating a false positive rate of 53%. However, the article doesn't indicate what the false negative rate was. I.e., how often did it identify a person not in the database as being in the database. The article indicates more than 1000 false negatives over four weeks of testing, but doesn't indicate the actual number nor the number of match attempts. Therefore, we can see that matching a face in the database to the database was less than 50% likely, which is near the same as a coin toos, and we cannot say that matching a face that really isn't in the database is a known number. Of course, a rate of near 50% indicates randomness, so we can weakly infer that the system at this airport is no better than a coin toss.

    • Okay, first let me say I have no idea how you got 1:1000 odds, or a medicine that reduced risk by 1000 times... Those people were people -in the database-. If this was a medical test, it would be one that identified you as having the disease if you truly did have it only half the time. That's not good!

      Okay. Let me do the math for ya'll again once again.

      What we know is that for a person in the database, the program identified them about 50% of the time. So, given a database of terrorists and a known terrorist, the probability of Match given Terrorist P(M|T) = 0.5. That's not good. That means that if a terrorist is actually trying to board a plane, this device is only 50% likely to catch them. That doesn't make me feel any safer.

      Now, what I really want to know is what are the odds that a person identified as a terrorist is actually a terrorist? This is the point the ACLU is bringing up with the false positives.

      For that, we need to know what the odds of being a Terrorist are. For the sake of this argument, lets say the odds are really high -- 1 in 100,000. That is ludicrously high, if you think about the amount of airline traffic each day. But for this calculation, P(T) = .00001. We also know what the odds of a Match given Not Terrorist P(M|!T) are, which from the article appears to be about 1000/280000.

      Now, what we want to know is the probability of being a Terrorist given a Match. By Baye's Rule,
      P(T|M) = P(M|T)P(T)/(P(M|T)P(T) + P(M|!T)P(!T)) = .0014.

      That's a 0.14% chance that a person -identified- as a terrorist is actually a terrorist. For every thousand people you accuse of being terrorists, you've only caught one, and the other nine hundred ninety nine are innocent people! And don't forget that while you're harrassing all those innocents, half of the real terrorists are walking through the gate unmolested!

      So no, this system is not a "sensation". It's a piece of shit that is only going to make people's lives worse while providing nothing but a false sense of security.
  • Dumb patent question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bollie (152363) <`slashdot' `at' `jangutter.com'> on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:15PM (#3533671) Homepage
    IANAL: this means I cannot think totally illogically.

    1) In exchange for patent rights, the company must make public the details of the design it wants to patent.
    1.1) In a software patent case, this may consist of example code.

    2) It is legal for any person to obtain the patent application for a succesful patent.
    2.1) In a software patent case, this means you may posess the example code.

    3) It is illegal to implement the patent without the patentholder's express consent.
    3.1) This means it is illegal to compile and execute the example code.

    So now: suppose someone takes the patent application form and translates it into a different language. That definately has to be legal.

    Since code is speech, this may be a computer language.

    Add a bit of embellishments and you have a full-fledged application that incorporates the patent. Still legal to posess, but illegal to compile or run.

    Assume it's legal to publish this (free speech and all that), and furthermore assume that US citizens may download it.

    I would assume some form of system needs to be in place that prevents US citizens from compiling and executing the code, otherwise it violates the patent.

    Therefore, code anything you want, make one deliberate error, publish the code and allow downloads. Citizens of a country that's stupid enough to allow patents on software must therefore be stupid enough not to be able to compile and execute broken code! (No flames please, my <sarcastic> tags don't work!)

    Please, shoot holes in my argument! Where'm I going wrong? It can't be this simple!
    • by tlunde (38528)
      I'm sure that I'm going to get flamed, but what the heck. I've been on the net since '87 (no, that's not a typo) and decided that this IP law stuff was getting important. So, now I am a lawyer who practices IP law.

      Your first premise isn't quite right. A patent is a right to exclude others. It is granted by the government in exchange for teaching others about your invention. Software patents are often written in very generic terms -- I've not yet seen one with example code in it. Why? TMTOWTDI. (Ok, so I used to get paid to code Perl -- shoot me.)

      1.1. True, but note the "may"
      2. If by "successful" you mean the application was granted and a patent issued, then yes. (Assuming the subject matter wasn't classified for national security reasons or some such.)
      2.1 True, if there was sample code. I won't there has never been sample code, but it's not bloody likely.

      3. Close enough.
      3.1 Hmmm. That patentee has the right to exclude others (under US law) from making or using the invention.

      Translating the patent application -- sure, it is a public document.

      Code may be speech, but not all speech is code ;-}

      It's not _illegal_ per se; a patentee has the right to exclude you from using his/her patented invention.

      publishing? Sure: www.uspto.gov

      Some form of system? Yup, it's called Federal court. If you're the patentee and I'm violating your rights, you can sue me in Federal court. (Again, I'm assuming US law here.) But a system for prior-restraint? Nope.

      I completely fail to understand how you made the leap to the last element in your syllogism.
    • When did the court system accept the source code was speech? I (can be wrong but) remember from the DVD case that the judge didn't accept that the source code was considered free speech. (And that the argument that when that code is tarred, you get a number, and numbers can't be owned, the code should be allowed to be distributed was not accepted but the court either)

      Also, you said "patent application form" you mean the phyiscal form someone fills in when they go for a patent? if so why is that relelvent? Being able to translate the actual patent to another language and distribute it should be legal, but i don't think they will allow translating the code into another computer language. (think back to your first Cd classes, a lot of the people their had trouble being able to seperate the concepts from the code, how expireinced do you think the coders are at patent office?)

      If you rename an mp3 to a .txt, thereby not stopping anyone from running it, would the MPAA allow you to distribute it? I doubt the courts would think its legal for you to distribute code that had 1 deliberate error. (Also, what about interprated languages?)

      Also, lastly remember, the system isn't meant to be logical but to further society. The artificial rules cause holes which create court cases and more laws and holes to make a giant mess, logic doesn't work across the whole system, especially since there are many different view points of what is code and computer stuff in general.
  • The ACLU said the first four weeks of testing at the Palm Beach airport showed the technology was "less accurate than a coin toss."

    Now, a coin toss generally turns up the null hypothesis (completely random). So it's worse than completely random?

    I've got an easy solution, then. All they have to do is reverse the answers and they'll be MORE accurate than a coin toss!
  • by AnimeFreak (223792) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:22PM (#3533698) Homepage
    This is something I came up with a while back. If you're going to ban the sale of violent video games to minors, why not ban violent books to minors?

    Books are full of violence ranging from rape, murder, war, you name it, books are just as bad as television and video games alike. If you're going to ban the same of such games as Unreal Tournament, Counter-Strike, or Quake III Arena, then you might as-well ban books involving material I just mentioned.

    • How many people on death row have:

      • played a violent video game?
      • read a book?


    • book banning (and book burning) make people remember older cases of that which ended in tyranny or something similarly. The average person doesn't consider games to be like books. Books require imaginations, there are no pictures. Games are viewed more like movies, and movies have restriced access. A major problem is that the word "games" is used. Most older adult view a game as a trivial waste of time, not as an art form. This view further seperates games from books.
  • ... said the first four weeks of testing at the Palm Beach airport showed the technology was "less accurate than a coin toss." The system matched the faces of the volunteers just 455 out of 958 times, or about 47 percent of the time.

    Actually, no. It's considerably more accurate than a coin toss!

    Let's say you have 1,000 faces in your (rather small) database. You walk these 1,000 people by the camera, and some guy with a quarter.

    The camera was able to identify, of the 1,000 people, which person it was 47% of the time.

    The guy with the quarter would get (on average) 0.1%, (1 in 1,000 odds) and this is assuming that the guy knows that the person in front of him is actually in the database! That's 470 times better!

    However, this is a test done in a real airport! Run 10,000 people by, and let's say the camera gets 47% right.The guy with the quarter now averages around 0.001%

    In this scenario, the camera would do 47,000 times better than the guy randomly guessing!

    But even that is not as rigorous as the actual test! In this case, they ran it 10,000 times per day for 8 weeks, or (potentially) 560,000 faces.

    What we should be looking at, is that it's choosing the right guy (out of 250) almost 50% of the time in a sample size of 560,000.

    That's quite a feat. When that hits 95%, and it's pattern matching Osama Bin Laden, what do you think airport security would do if there's a match?

    Even with that, I don't think it's going to reach that point without 3D modeling with two cameras. Isn't there an article here someplace about how great and wonderful NVIDIA is at 3D stuff?

    • by BCoates (512464) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @09:05PM (#3533858)
      That's quite a feat. When that hits 95%, and it's pattern matching Osama Bin Laden, what do you think airport security would do if there's a match?

      The problem isn't so much that it only matches successfully 47% of the time, it's that the 47% doesn't appear to be random--the article makes it seem you can make it very likely that you will consistently be missed by the system just by wearing glasses and not looking straight at the camera. Once it's well-understood how to avoid being caught by the system, it's worse than nothing (false sense of security) even if it correctly identifies 95% of people not taking countermeasures.

      Not that Osama bin Laden would be on a flight in florida anyway, and remember that identification would not have helped prevent the events of September 11, since we knew who the hijackers were when they walked on the plane, we just didn't know what they had planned.

      --
      Benjamin Coates
  • Time to get creative (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MarkusQ (450076) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:27PM (#3533718) Journal
    These lawsuits aren't the first time that PanIP principal Lawrence Lockwood has initiated legal proceedings against companies he felt were infringing his patents...He's obviously learned from his earlier 'mistake' and is only going for the smaller companies.

    So, what we should do is keep our eyes out for companies that are violating his "patents" (e.g., get a phone book) and start notifying them that they appear to be in violation. Copy PanIP on the notice, and see what happens. If enough people (hundreds? thousands?) do this to enough companies, it should surely stir up some dust.

    Foe good measure, 1) pick companies that look big enough to fight him (or obvious sympathy cases), 2) also copy the patent office on the message, and 3) send a copy to the journalists who have covered the story.

    Smirk. One good way to kill things that live under rocks is to expose them to daylight.

    -- MarkusQ

  • by big.ears (136789) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:31PM (#3533730) Homepage
    The ACLU has a good point, but their coin flip analogy is a little misleading. If they were really using a coin flip to 'guess' who each person was (i.e., guessing randomly), accuracy would have been much lower, with expected normalized discriminibility score (d') of 0. For example, their target set was of 250 people. So, a dumb guessing system would have less than a .4% hit rate: compared to that, 50% is pretty good. Furthermore, this wasn't a simple categorization task: there were 5000 passengers a day that were tested. Over 4 weeks there were around 1000 false alarms, which is a false alarm rate of .007 (and a d' of 2.5). Note that they could have increased the hit rate to above 50% if they wanted to allow for more false alarms, but they tuned the algorithms to err on the side of letting people through if there was any question. To me, this sounds like something the ACLU should be happy about, and they should perhaps recognize the difficulty of setting these thresholds and attempt to provide guidelines about how to do it and what to do after you register a hit. Face it, automated detection devices are going to exist, and they won't be perfect. But, in order to optimize the detection criteria, costs must be assigned to false alarms relative to misses. This is something that we shouldn't let the engineers and businessmen and law enforcement do alone--it is something that the humanists and the civil libertarians and the policy-makers and you and I need a voice in too.
  • Even with all the technological advances we have today, we still can't reproduce one of the common tasks the human brain performs, face recognition. It just shows you how complex our brains really are. Although, we're not perfect at face recognition either, but I'm sure the average person could do far better than 47%. Someday, a computer will be better, but I guess not today...

    • It is amazing. It can do 47% on a very large sample, and presumably learn the sample quickly. We may no lots of people, purely as "the girl at the paper-shop", or "the ticket guy", or "a bus driver". It can learn to pick 47% out of hundreds of people very quickly.

      So yes, it is amazing, and often better than what we can do. If you hook up three of them and get them to vote, you might get a better result...

  • by metalhed77 (250273) <andrewvc AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 16, 2002 @08:41PM (#3533772) Homepage
    he was also a member of the local gun club. I'm sure that gave him far more training than playing CS did.
    • From the article:
      The failed student was a gun club marksman who used his training to shoot many of his 16 victims -- 13 teachers, two pupils and a police officer -- in the head at close range.

      Now "close range" isn't really defined here, but I am guessing it isn't point blank. So yes, he had some training. But to play devil's advocate here, violent video games can feed an already unhealthy appetite. I am NOT saying they caused anything, but let's be honest. After all, many games, especially violent ones, become more popular because of their realism. It is easy to get caught up in the virtual world. Can it cause you to go out and shoot people - I don't think so. Can it help to twist the twisted a little further? I think so. But face it, the "virtual world", whether it be the internet or video games, DOES have an effect on people. I don't think it has been studied enough yet. People say that violent movies or music don't have an effect on the listener, but it does. If it didn't, then people wouldn't be interested in it. I am not suggesting banning anything, but something needs to be done to try and understand the effects that music/video games/movies, etc have on us as a populace. As long as people are up in arms about even trying to study and understand these things, we won't get anywhere as a society.

  • I hope they don't ban Counter-Strike. Without Counter-Strike, I will have no way of procuring an army of children trained well enough to guard my secret, well defendedisland fortress [slashdot.org].
  • If they go about causing enough pain for enough people... perhaps congress will get involved and fix the monster that they have created? (or perhaps they will just make it worse...)
  • If a company can be shown to have a history of starting lawsuits on highly questionable patents and the company's sole purpose of existance seems to be to (try to) shake down other companies for these questionable patents, wouldn't that basically be a history of extortion and consipiracy to commit extortion? I'd think that it'd be pretty obvious what's going on there. Maybe someone should ask the DA in the state they're incorporated in. Or the FTC.

    Of course I am not a lawyer, but I play one on TV!

  • Tonight I was coincendently looking for good software for my own surveilance system. I remembered a rather impressive program I had seen demonstrated on cebit a couple of years ago: the software grabbed faces on the fly and it added them to a database then you could select "evil" people and an alarm would go off when they passed a camera. Also you could see stats on the people that were in the database about when they passed it for the last time and stuff like that.
    I was delighted to see there was an evaluation version available, too bad it's for nt-clones only, but if you also happen to have a video-capture system, I'd say it's worth try.
    The program is called Face It and you can download it here [faceit.com]

  • ...by a student who apparently trained by playing CS.

    Hmmm... so, I'm assuming he was jumping down the hallways like some kind of rabbit on crack, shooting randomly? Because that's about the only thing that CS teaches you.

  • If your odds are worse than 50%, just stick a big fat 'not' in front of your oracle, and now they are better than 50%!

  • by ninewands (105734) on Friday May 17, 2002 @12:11AM (#3534849)
    "Normally I'm not a fighting type of guy," he said, but the broadness of PanIP's claims and the $30,000 they want in licensing fees led him to decide "we're going to rumble, we're going to fight this thing," he said.

    I can't help thinking that the slashdot thread on this situation may have influenced Allan Dickson's thinking on this matter.

    However ...

    without people who have the backbone to fight back, we are at the mercy of those who would claim unlimited IP rights.

    Innovation belongs to those who created it. I support IP rights, but those who come along later and file "business method" patents claiming that they created something that was already being done is NOT "innovation."
  • I wonder if this technology will ever be accurate enough to work properly. I suppose the biggest problem is the size of the database that would be necessary to hold the high quality pictures necessary for accurate identification.

    It kind of makes you wonder... how do humans do facial recognition? After all, in this department we tend to be pretty damn good compared to machines. The truth is we rely on lots of other information like body movement, facial expressions (movement), sounds, etc. Not that I like this sort of invasion of privacy, but maybe a simple mugshot compared against crappy security camera video at poor angles just isn't enough information to make a positive id out of thousands of candidates. Now if we can just get the terrorists to pose for the camera. Okay, Mr Bin Laden, let's see what your smile looks like. Thanks, ok now frown. I'll give you a cookie if we can see your angry face. Say cheese.

  • by catsidhe (454589) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ehdistac'> on Friday May 17, 2002 @01:40AM (#3535185) Homepage
    The ACLU said the first four weeks of testing at the Palm Beach airport showed the technology was "less accurate than a coin toss." The system matched the faces of the volunteers just 455 out of 958 times, or about 47 percent of the time.

    Seems to me that this is a controlled environment for the most part, and still they have problems this big? I wonder if this technology will ever be accurate enough to work properly.

    WRONG STATISTICAL ANALOGY

    If you have a choice between two objects, and the correct one is chosen 50% or so of the time, then you have a random system, and it is roughly equivalent to a coin. If you have a choice of three (one is correct, two are incorrect), and the wrong one is chosen 33.3% of the time, you have a random system. (D6/2 for AD&Ders out there.)
    ERGO, the probability to chose one correct item randomly from a field of n items is 1/n. Face recognition is one in a practical infinity. A success rate of 1% is therefore a stupendous technical achievement. A success rate of 47% is a marvel of design.

    Of course, if it is to be used in any real-world application, then a success rate of 99.9% would be a Good Thing, with an independantly thinking human being to check for false positives or negatives. Maybe the software could show a phot of who it thinks the person is for a human to quickly verify.

    If this is used for biometrics in private or secure building access, then it is showing strong possibilities. If it is being used to scan for wanted criminals (putting aside concerns about civil liberties and privacy in public places (if there is any such thing)), then a tightly controlled system of checks is required. A flag to say 'Hey, I think I just saw Osama bin Laden, you might want to check', rather than automatically setting off all the alarms and releasing the hounds.

    Also, they say they are testing it at an airport? Doesn't sound like a controlled lab to me! Unless you have a limited set of faces, in a controlled studio environment, you are in an uncontrolled environment. Of course some environments are more controlled than others, but an airport?

    Just because the possible (allright, probable) misuses of a technology are disturbing does not diminish the technical achievement of making that technology work. Remember that this tech is also necessary for AI vision systems, etc. (You could say that when this system becomes as good as a human you have effectively built an AI anyway).

  • Quoting from the article:
    Counter-Strike war nach Erfurt in die Kritik geraten, weil der
    19-jährige Schtze es angeblich vor seiner Tat gespielt haben soll.

    So, why don't they forbid bread and water because
    he surely has eaten and drunk shortly before he went amok.
    Oh no, even _my_ gouvernment is gone mad these days.
  • Cree Prophecy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tomcat666 (210775)
    When the last LAN party has been closed,

    when Counterstrike is banned,

    when the Internet is censored,

    only then will parents discover that they still have to educate their children...
  • Leaving the simple fact aside that a certain few aspects of weapon combat/massacres ARE simulated/trained by playing Egoshooters - the largest portion of skill Robert Steinhauser used in the Effurt massacre he trained in action shooting training Sessions in the local "Schuetzenverein" (the tradtional german musketeers clubs). The only place in germany where civilians can optain the right to legaly own and handle such heavy weapons as a pumpgun.

    Conservative german politicians in the now-all-present pre-election phase like to leave this little detail aside nowadays whilst demanding prohibition of "Killergames". For the simple reason that a large portion of conservative voters actually come from these "traditionalists" parts.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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