Skip to main content

To curb identity theft, this AI app warns you when your fingerprints are visible in pictures

best songs about friendship
Gpointstudio/123RF
You don’t need to be reading conspiracy theories about global elites secretly being shape-shifting reptiles to become deeply paranoid online. In fact, a quick glance at your favorite computer science academic journal (and everyone’s got at least one, right?) will be enough to convince you that, when it comes to keeping yourself safe and secure, you’ve been doing everything all wrong.

There are a plethora of potential identifiers in virtually every picture, from obvious ones like faces which be recognized by machines to ones that sound like they come straight from a James Bond movie, such as extracting fingerprints from high-res photos that show your hands. Fortunately, researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Informatics are on the case, and in a newly published paper, they reveal their solution: An AI which proactively scans every image you prepare to post and alerts you whether it’s secretly revealing data you really don’t want to share.

The system they describe would involve a deep learning neural network trained to recognize revealing patterns in large amounts of data, and then to search for those same patterns in subsequent images. For their work, the Max Planck Institute researchers collected thousands of images, and then filtered them into 68 different privacy categories, based on information they’re revealing.

arXiv/Orekondy et. al.
arXiv/Orekondy et. al.

They also conducted surveys into how much data people were happy to share online, and how much they thought particular photos were revealing — thereby highlighting the fact that we, as puny humans, really aren’t that good at parsing this particular task.

The AI would therefore be a weight off users’ mind, as we would be alerted of potential privacy issues without having to scour every picture, Where’s Waldo?-style, for obscure revealing clues.

No, the privacy-minded Siri isn’t ready yet — with a large part of the reason being that some of the technology described isn’t yet up to the necessary performance standards. But with privacy an increasingly big issue, and deep learning advancing at an astonishingly rapid rate, it’s good to know that people are thinking of new ways to keep us safe.

Who knows? In 10 years time, a tool like this could be as ubiquitous as spell check!

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more