A new technology is allowing surveillance cameras to detect suspicious activity without human supervision, prompting enthusiasm at security and counterterrorism agencies and outrage among "Big Brother" opponents.
And the newest agency to pick up the controversial technology: Muni.
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Fast Company reported that the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority plans to install 22 BRS Labs AIsight cameras at each Muni station. Using behavioral analytics, the new cameras are allegedly able to not only record suspicious activity, but to recognize it and alert security personnel.
According to BRS Labs, the cameras have the ability to learn what they observe. The cameras are designed to build "memories" of observed behavior patterns that become more accurate over time. As the memories evolve, cameras develop "trip wires" of suspicious activity. Once one of the alarms is tripped, the camera sends the information to human personnel over the Internet, along with text messages alerting them to the activity.
In an informational video, BRS Labs showed an AIsight camera recognizing an undetected subject circumventing a metal detector as he entered a building--a catch that then inspired the building's security team to erect metal barriers around the detector.
In the video, a BRS Labs representative explained the technology:
The technology developed by BRS Labs has allowed AIsight to directly connect the light images of a video camera to the full and extreme reasoning power of artificial neural networks. […] This represents a quantum leap from video analytics to behavioral analytics, the ability to apply multiple learned memories combined with environmental factors to accurately recognize the behavior of a person or object as opposed to simply identifying it and locating its position on the screen.
Due to the advanced nature of the camera's behavioral analytics, the AIsight would allegedly allow security agencies to dramatically reduce human surveillance staff--a nearly irresistible feature for cash-strapped agencies.
But while the technology is indisputably impressive, it has not been welcomed by everyone.
"Absolute tyranny in the making," wrote one commentator on The Blaze.
"The 'thought police' can't be far behind now," wrote another.
Infowars.com and other news outlets compared the new technology to the 2002 thriller "Minority Report," in which police apprehend criminals before a crime has occurred.
What do you think of the new cameras? Watch the BRS Labs informational video and let us know your thoughts in the comments and poll below: