Anti-Surveillance: Facial Recognition

In the dark future, how do you avoid being observed? When there is so much technology designed to track you and pass your movements onto the corporate overlords and onto their government masters.

Most facial recognition relies on video cameras to record the face, and a computer system to identify a person from the background noise or environment. This usually relies on Machine Learning to extract the face from the environment and then a library of faces to compare with. This provides 2 points of disruption or attack to disrupt the system.

1. Countermeasures

Facial recognition is one thing that many Player Characters, will have to dodge to avoid arrest. They will be detected, but what can they do to avoid recognition?

This is the most obvious solution, and the one many players tend to fall back on. There is always low-tech, the shelf standards like motorbike helmet, ski-mask, or face mask. However, even the basic mask can cause some problems with some dark materials appearing transparent under Infrared light, or white materials glowing when a UV light is shone on them.

Some interesting additions include Video Masks, Exotic Makeup, or Bizarre Clothing.

Video Masks

Building on the basic mask idea is the video mask, which combines a solid mask with a form of video projection or screen.

A near-future version would be a more self-contained device than the projection mask, described here. The Scifi series, TekWar provides an example, where a hi-tech hooded displays another face on yours. It’s used as a plot device to allow people to sneak in. Or even an adaption of Ghost in the Shell’s Therm-Optical Camoflague. Regardless of the source, there are countless ways this can be used and abused.

From a distance, a character could look like someone else, which provides interesting options for players messing with NPCs and NPCs doing the same. Frame someone for murder with video evidence.

However, the risks of using the technology can provide tension for the game. The PCs can be challenged with a Scooby-Doo-style mystery of who’s behind the mask. Or on a covert operation where you can keep them guessing how long will this keep working? Is there some exotic technology that will see through the illusion?

Exotic Makeup & Bizarre Clothing

Dazzle was a kind of camouflage used during World War 1, where it was designed to throw off the range-finding visual observation of ships by submarines.

SS West Mahomet in dazzle camouflage, 1918

Computer Vision Dazzle Camouflage points the way towards exotic fashion & makeup for the near future with Dazzle-style, 8-bit low-res pixel style, or AI-generated patterns sprayed onto your face.

Weird patterns or distorted geometry on clothing confuse the sensors. See These clothes use outlandish designs to trick facial recognition software into thinking you’re not human.

The will category of anti-Surveillance technology will see a lot of change as the Algorithms improve to detect people, while the counter algorithms create better counters.

2. Attack the system

This second stage is really looking at corrupting the algorithm, with a cyber attack, or flooding them with useless data. Either way, this becomes a game scenario in its own right.