Belarus Protesters Use AI to ‘Unmask’ Riot Police Wearing Face Coverings


A Blarus-born digital artist named Andrew Maximov just lately went viral after posting a video that reveals how it’s doable to “unmask” riot police who’re violently cracking down on protesters in his residence nation, even when the one a part of their face that’s seen is their eyes.

For the past four months, 1000’s of individuals throughout Belarus have been staging a collection of ongoing protests in opposition to the reelection of Alyaksandr Lukashenk. Lukashenk’s disputed August ninth reelection solely added gasoline to the fireplace, and the response from the federal government has been swift and brutal. For almost two months, balaclava-clad riot police have been proven beating and dragging away protesters

You’ll be able to see the tech in motion within the video under, which was posted by 30-year-old Maximov, who’s presently based mostly in the USA:

The purpose of the video, Maximov tells Radio Free Europe, is to “show to the those that, as a substitute of upholding the regulation in Belarus, they’re breaking it day by day, that there’s each technological functionality accessible to put their faces onto the photograph and video proof of their offenses.”

Maximov mentioned he was on “the entrance traces” of protests in opposition to Lukashenk in 2010, and feels an ethical crucial to assist the protesters who’re struggling in opposition to him now.

After all, simply because the AI facial recognition tech utilized by regulation enforcement to determine protesters is usually criticized for its error fee and inherent biases, the know-how demonstrated right here additionally consists of the danger of “false positives.” In reality, since Radio Free Europe posted their characteristic on Maximov’s video, he’s posted an replace that reads (Google translated):

Guys, there was info that V.V. Kutsepalov, though it’s related, however perhaps not him. Now we’re checking.

Just a few months in the past, when the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the demise of George Floyd have been in full swing, photojournalists the world over engaged in a heated debate round whether or not it was moral to blur out the faces of protesters to shield their identification from regulation enforcement utilizing facial recognition.

Know-how like what Maximov is exhibiting above turns the tables on that debate, and reveals how the identical facial recognition tech used by regulation enforcement will also be used in opposition to them.

Picture credit: Header photograph by Andrew Keymaster, CC0

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