Lens – The New York Times
Gazing Back at the Suveillance Cameras That Watch Us
Text by Jordan Teicher, August 2018

Excerpt of the article:

If Mr. Hammerand’s work is a warning about a world in which anyone could be watching you, Esther Hovers’s serves as a warning about a world where no one is watching — at least, nobody human. As the number of security cameras grows, it isn’t feasible for people to keep watch on them at all times. Software picks up the slack.

In her series “False Positives,” Ms. Hovers visualizes the capabilities of security cameras in the future, which are programmed to automatically spot unusual movement patterns that may signal a criminal act.

“The systems I’m talking about still very much serve a supportive role,” she said. “For someone who has to watch like 40 or 50 different monitors at once, this intelligent camera can give a preference and say, ‘Please watch this screen.’ The future of it is for it to become more autonomous.”

Ms. Hovers read about such cameras in a newspaper article about Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which was experimenting with the technology. While she couldn’t learn much about Schipol’s specific system, researchers explained the underlying technology’s principles. Ms. Hovers used that knowledge to create — with the help of strangers she enlisted in the spur of the moment — scenes on the streets of Brussels that demonstrate some of the so-called anomalies an algorithm would likely detect.

In some images, the anomaly is easy to spot: Two men sprinting through the middle of the sidewalk, a group of people moving in a coordinated way, a man standing alone in a crowd. In others, however, the anomaly is hard to pinpoint. One wonders, is it the guy running? Or could it be the man walking in the opposite direction from everyone else in the image?

I like to keep that a little bit vague because I actually want to encourage this judgment of what’s normal,” Ms. Hovers said.

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