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Facial recognition software helps convict a robber

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Watch Dogs' vision of a super-connected Chicago may be truer than you think. A local judge has convicted Pierre Martin of armed robbery after police used facial recognition software (NEC's NeoFace) to match surveillance camera footage with an existing mugshot. While the cops still used witnesses to confirm their findings and make an arrest, the technology was vital to pinpointing Martin in the first place -- it's doubtful that investigators would have had time to sift through 4.5 million booking photos.

If you're thinking that the conviction has a slightly Orwellian vibe, you're not alone. However, it's notable that Chicago's software is only really useful for catching repeat criminals who already have a database presence, like Martin; it won't help with first-time arrests. That tidbit won't be completely reassuring given ongoing concerns about a surveillance-happy US government, but it's now clear that the system can at least prevent habitual offenders from slipping through the cracks.

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