FBI Plans To Use Artificial Intelligence To Identify ‘Unreadable Prints’ Left By Criminals Who Have Burnt, Or Slashed Their Fingers In Bid To Evade The Law

FBI Plans To Use Artificial Intelligence To Identify ‘Unreadable Prints’ Left By Criminals Who Have Burnt, Or Slashed Their Fingers In Bid To Evade The Law

     We are all well aware that it is getting harder and harder to stay hidden or anonymous.  DNA shedding, body scans at airports, facial recognition software, and our digital footprints/digital exhaust are all ways to track our every move and/or activities.  And, there has been no shortage of responses to that surveillance with the emergence of anti-surveillance masks, spoofing one’s digital address and cell phone activities, and so on.  Well, add one more to the surveillance side of things with a new report that the FBI intends to use artificial intelligence (AI), to reconstruct a partially damaged/disfigured fingerprint — to still find out who that print belongs to.

     Phoebe Weston posted an August 31, 2018, article on the media website, DailyMail.com, noting that the FBI wants to use AI to help identify fingerprints that are only partially visible — either due to accidental damage or purposeful obfuscation. The project called, Next Generation Identification System (NGIS).  The FBI is soliciting proposals from the private sector,”requesting information regarding the use of AI in the context altered fingerprint detection and identification.” The FBI cited “a growing trend in which criminals intentionally alter their fingerprints,” to remain hidden and anonymous. The FBI is hoping that AI technology has advanced far enough to allow the software to “teach itself,” without the need for re-programming/human intervention, to essentially ‘fill in the blanks,’ on the missing or altered parts of the fingerprint.

     While criminals have been altering their prints since the ‘invention of the fingerprint,’ as Ms. Weston noted, i.e., burning the tips of their fingers, dousing fingers in acid, self-mutilation, etc., the FBI is concerned about the growing potential hardened criminals may sort to plastic surgery.  I would however add, that with 3-D printing and algorithmic software, hardened criminals won’t need to resort to surgery.  3-D imaging and algorithms can manufacturer a new, realistic set of fingerprints, nearly instantly and easily.

     Ms. Weston notes that the FBI is seeking responses/proposals to their fingerprint AI request by October 12, 2018.

While seeking to find a tried and true method/technique that can restore an altered fingerprint may be a worthy endeavor for the FBI, I would submit that their concern about surgical alteration is somewhat misplaced.  While some clever criminals will no doubt utilize this option, the FBI should also be concerned that 3-D printing and software technology is becoming increasingly available to almost anyone.  This technology offers a method and technique that is increasingly inexpensive and easy to use/do, that allows the individual to create an entirely new and different set of fingerprints, or maybe even worse, ‘real’ fingerprints’ of someone they want to frame or implicate in a crime.  While I suspect that this method is not foolproof, it is likely good enough to fool most; and, requires a probing eye and investigation to determine that the prints are artificially made.  There is even an anti-surveillance mask that is available, that uses 3-D imaging and algorithmic software to make an entirely new face — at least for a short period of time — so that you look like an entirely different person. 

     This/these kinds of technology obviously, also have implications for the Intelligence Community and undercover operatives.  It is indeed, a brave, new, world.  RCP, fortunascorner.com

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