Automatic AI Face Redaction, The Powerful Solution to Privacy

Automatic AI Face Redaction, The Powerful Solution to Privacy

You might have heard the rumors by now Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over the world! The public announcement comes from staple figures such as Stephen Hawking or your neighborhood Sci-Fi junkie, making it apparent that this unknown technological unicorn we simplify as AI is causing havoc. It’s safe to say that most of us don’t quite understand what it is and resort to making assumptions based on movies, misinformation, and bias. The few that work closely with it can seem a bit too unrelatable for most to trust. To maneuver around the chaos, we have first to understand AI, but what is it exactly?

Most of us use AI daily and are not fully aware of it. When we put an address in our travel apps, AI gives a more accurate representation of traffic. Some streaming platforms also use AI to recommend shows you may like based on what you’ve previously watched. That search engine you use to check the score of your favorite team uses AI to not only get you the information you need but also to personalize your social media advertisement. Go ahead and ask your digital voice assistant to confirm because that, too, uses AI.

AI and Its Birth Place

AI, short for Artificial Intelligence, gives machines the ability to perform tasks that are considered advanced such as learning, problem-solving, and decision-making, putting the goal of humanlike reaction at the center. There are different types of AI, allowing technology to be molded to the use case of any requester. One of the more popular needs in this day and age is guarding privacy, and AI is playing a huge part in providing a solution.

The idea of using technology for security, though practical, is not original. Back in the 1890s, the idea of creating a small collection of mugshots to recognize criminals easily paved the way for today’s robust criminal database. The notable desire to improve machines dates back to the 1960s when the RAND tablet, invented by Bledsoe, allowed a system to recognize faces based on manual input, grandfathering AI facial detection today.

The Why’s and How’s of Automatic AI Face Redaction

We are in a world where we’re surrounded by technology that can easily put our face at the center of attention, whether we know it or not. Social media use is at an all-time high, biometric devices are utilized more frequently, and security cameras are at every corner. There are 50 million video surveillance cameras in the United States alone and over a billion worldwide; it is almost guaranteed that your face is in many of these videos.  This puts our identity and privacy at risk making redacting, and redacting properly, a necessity, and the most sought redaction need is for faces.

Automatic AI face redaction is exactly as it sounds; it allows users to redact (aka remove) by blurring, pixelating, or blocking out faces in images and videos. It’s sophisticated enough to track all faces in every frame of a video without you having to intervene, no matter how long the video may be. Once tracked, it can redact by either blurring, pixelating, or blocking so that everything behind what’s redacted is scrubbed. This level of convenience, accuracy, and speed is why it is used by many industries, including hospitals, law enforcement, schools, and government agencies, airports, to comply with laws and regulations that have your privacy in mind.

cameras on the wall

Schools use Automatic AI face redaction to, for example, redact children’s faces in the background of any footage that parents, the media, or courts may request. Fighting for justice shouldn’t have to put innocent bystanders on the center stage of the public eye, and the law agrees. As a matter of fact, some rules and regulations protect these rights, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This act details the proper steps that must be taken to view, obtain or distribute any video surveillance footage that is considered an “education record”. This includes the redaction of students that are not directly correlated with the incident in question.

This footage can have a lot of people and involve a lot of movement. Redacting the proper faces manually can take hours, and getting it done quickly will not seem possible. Working on a tedious task, such as finding and redacting tens of faces, can be exhaustive, and that leaves room for human error. Thankfully, Automatic AI faces redaction can get the job done in a matter of seconds; take a look at this video to get an idea of how fast it works.

By now, you may be asking yourself, “How is that possible?” If you’re a skeptic, you might wonder, “Doesn’t the automatic AI face redaction thingamajig now have my face in its database? How is my privacy protected?”.

How is AI Able to Redact Faces

To have AI redact faces, it must first be able to detect that the object on your screen is actually a face and not something else. At one point, our brain looked at faces and realized a pattern; the same way we expect a person’s face to have eyes, a nose, a mouth, and ears in specific places, a machine with Automatic AI face redaction software has a checklist of requirements to seep through to learn and distinguish from before the object is categorized as a face.

Machine learning and image processing are the bare metal of what allows the system to learn this. The ability for machines to actually distinguish the difference between objects as though it’s being done through the human eye is called Computer Vision. Conveniently, the long list of computer languages, functions, and algorithms needed to make a machine able to do such tasks is neatly organized for use in an open-source library, a popular one for facial and object detection being OpenCV.

Picture this; you’ve decided to reconnect with an old friend at a busy restaurant. You’re likely to scan the room, find them, and make your way to them. Now imagine that when you begin to scan the room, you see your best friend, boss, ex-lover, favorite celebrity, and that guy that hit your car last week; you might have to pause.

Forget the obvious question of “Am I being punked?” but because your brain remembers these faces and can make connections based on recognition and memory, it’s busier than it would have been if it were a room full of strangers leading the way to your old friend.

Thankfully, you didn’t personally know the crowd, and you can now approach your friend pretty quickly. Now when your friend states, “The restaurant is having a pretty busy night; there are a lot of people here!” you shouldn’t have to look and scan the room again to check that the objects you passed by are people because that registered in your mind as you were walking in.

automatic-face-redaction

To work quickly, the Automatic AI face redaction software has to detect faces, not recognize them. There is an important difference between AI face detection and AI face recognition. The machines that work to detect and redact do not store your information or analyze your face to match with any database, it simply just “scans the room” to know that these objects are faces and redacts, allowing the content of the image or video to hold its value without compromising privacy.

Facial recognition, however, uses more complex methods and has specific use cases since it can identify individuals based on facial feature measurements and comparisons. It’s more like the scenario of you walking into a room filled with people you know. With facial recognition, the measurements of your face are key. The distance between your eyes, the length of your nose, the shape of your face, facial hair, and more are noted down and used to compare and “remember” or identify you.

But of course, you cannot compare if there is nothing to compare. That’s why when you set up facial recognition for the first time on your device, you have to scan your face multiple times and from different angles so that it can be saved into the system. From then on, you’re able to use your face to unlock your device. If facial detection were used to unlock your phone instead of facial recognition, anyone with eyes, a nose, and a mouth could get into your data.

Asking the Right Questions

There are numerous reasons why an easy-to-use yet accurate solution to redact is requested by millions seeking proper privacy through trusted software. Automatic AI faces redaction instruments can vary in methodology, quality, and variety which is why it’s essential to do your research before committing to one. Demands for facial redaction in videos and images, along with audio, email, and documentation redaction, are growing as expected.

When searching for the right redacting tool, you should have a couple of questions in mind. Some can be:

How accurately does the AI Automatic face redaction tool work?

It’s essential to know that your redaction tool will detect all the faces in your footage. Whether your footage was taken in the dark, rainy weather, or people are running and jumping, coming in and out of the frame frequently. It’s also important to know if your face redaction tool will not randomly detect objects as faces and leave you with an insane amount of objects to clean up.

Can I manually edit the redactions that the AI might have missed?

The purpose of AI is to lighten the load of our tasks; if it misses something, we should be able to have a manual editing option that is user-friendly to fix the issue.

What is the environment of the redaction tool needs to operate?

Some redaction tools are hosted on the cloud, and others are locally installed on your machine. The apparent difference is whether you are fine uploading your files to the cloud to get them redacted or this is a no-go for you. We will discuss the pros and cons of both solutions in another article.

Is the redaction tool reliable?

Whether your redaction tool is hosted locally or on the cloud, you must always ask how your work is being saved. Is it saved often, and how often? Is there a history, or are there different revisions to roll back and forth between? Will I lose work because of the system crash or an internet connection loss?

Can I redact a large number and different kinds of files at once?

If you are searching for a redaction tool, you’ll likely need to use it more than once. It would also be a plus if you could redact images, videos, audio, and different types of documents all in one platform. Make sure you get a bang for your buck!

What is the difference between face redaction and head redaction?

Face detection/redaction is a more narrow option than head detection/ redaction. With face detection, the AI does a good job of picking up faces but that means if the person is not facing the camera, it would not detect it, so no redaction will be applied. With head detection, the AI can detect someone that may be facing to the side, away from the camera, and able to detect based on hair as well, not just facial features.

Do you know a redaction software that can do it all?

Conclusion

Technology has come a long way and is solving many of our problems. Privacy, transportation, education, health, and more have been improved with the use of technology, more specifically, AI technology. Learning about what AI has to offer might seem overwhelming, but we’re becoming exposed to its true potential and positive impact day by day. Automatic AI face redaction offers a simple and reliable method to ensure privacy and security. Its user base will grow as quickly as its advancements; you should probably get on board!

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