Army Trains AI to Identify Faces in the Dark

Facial recognition has already come a long way since U.S. Special Operations Forces used the technology to help identify Osama bin Laden after killing the Al-Qaeda leader in his Pakistani hideout in 2011. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory recently unveiled a dataset of faces designed to help train AI on identifying people even in the dark—a possible expansion of facial recognition capabilities that some experts warn could lead to expanded surveillance beyond the battlefield.

The Army Research Laboratory Visible and Thermal Face dataset contains 500,000 images from 395 people. Despite its modest size as far as facial recognition datasets go, it is one of the largest and most comprehensive datasets that includes matching images of people’s faces taken under both ordinary visible-light conditions and with heat-sensing thermal cameras in low-light conditions.

“Our motivation for this dataset was we wanted to develop a nighttime and low-light face recognition capability for these unconstrained or difficult lighting settings,” says Matthew Thielke, a physicist at the Army Research Laboratory in White Oak, Maryland.

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