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AI is being used to profile people from their head vibrations

Digital video surveillance systems can’t just identify who someone is. They can also work out how someone is feeling and what kind of personality they have. They can even tell how they might behave in the future. And the key to unlocking this information about a person is the movement of their head.

That is the claim made by the company behind the VibraImage artificial intelligence (AI) system. (The term “AI” is used here in a broad sense to refer to digital systems that use algorithms and tools such as automated biometrics and computer vision). You may never have heard of it, but digital tools based on VibraImage are being used across a broad range of applications in Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

But as I show in my recent research, published in Science, Technology and Society, there is very little reliable, empirical evidence that VibraImage and systems like it are actually effective at what they claim to do.

Among other things, these applications include identifying “suspect” individuals among crowds of people. They are also used to grade the mental and emotional states of employees. Users of VibraImage include police forces, the nuclear industry and airport security. The technology has already been deployed at two Olympic Games, a FIFA World Cup and a G7 Summit.

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