Facial recognition technology is nothing new – there are probably apps on your phone right now with the ability to recognize faces, but you have minimal control over that. Clearview AI, on the other hand, aims to create a facial recognition database that includes you. Yes, you. But not just you. Clearview wants its database to include every human being on Earth and believes it can achieve this by siphoning 100 billion photos from the internet. And all he wants is a few more million dollars in venture capital.
Clearview was founded in 2017 but operated in stealth mode until late 2019. This allowed the company to start harvesting data to power its algorithms before facing serious opposition. But AI is only as good as the data you feed it, and Clearview’s algorithm is starving. The Washington Post reports that Clearview made a presentation to potential investors in December where it explained its goal of reaching 100 billion photos. This, the company says, will ensure that its system will be able to recognize virtually every one of the 7.9 billion people on Earth.
Clearview AI made this pitch because it needs money to do everything, and not as much as you might expect — it only needs another $50 million. Many investors might find this in their couch cushions. The company told investors it already has 10 billion images and is currently adding 1.5 billion more each month. And more funding means more data, and that means a more powerful facial recognition engine. The money will also help Clearview lobby the government for “friendly regulation”, according to the report.
So where does Clearview get all these photos? From us – we give them. Clearview grabs images from all over the internet, something other companies have tried to stop. Google, Facebook, Twitter and others have told Clearview to stop, but they maintain the data collection is protected by the First Amendment. If you’re thinking, “I should delete the photos I uploaded to X,” it’s probably already too late.
In 2022, Clearview’s patented facial recognition platform is being used by law enforcement across the country, and several tech companies have reportedly expressed quiet interest. Clearview does not currently provide services to non-governmental entities, but this may change. In the presentation, Clearview said it wanted to expand beyond government contracts and presented very ‘Black Mirror’ ideas, such as monitoring the movements of gig workers and identifying people by scanning their fingerprints. remote digital.
Clearview might have an uphill battle, but the technology that enables it won’t go away as long as it’s useful. If Clearview can’t get $50 million to scan your fingerprints across the room, surely someone else will.