Biometric Mirror presented at the World Bank and World Engineers Convention

28 January 2020

Photo: Niels Wouters and Zaher Joukhadar at World Bank in Washington, DC

Biometric Mirror has rounded out a busy year of local and international appearances, with two final presentations for 2019. Biometric Mirror is a research collaboration project between The University of Melbourne’s Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces (SocialNUI) and Science Gallery Melbourne.

The project has been exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and facial analysis technologies, as people interact with them in public spaces. When using Biometric Mirror, a single photograph is captured of the individual which is then used by the AI’s algorithm to present a series of facial analytics results around personality traits, such as the level of  ‘happiness’ or ‘responsibility’ in the individual. The vague and subjective nature of these characteristics are intentionally presented to the user in a way that prompts questioning and discussion around the user’s experience with AI and how facial recognition technologies are used.

Most recently, Biometric Mirror has featured at the World Bank in Washington, DC, and the World Engineers Convention in Melbourne.

World Bank

Biometric Mirror was presented and demoed at the 2019 World Bank Law, Justice and Development Week, held at the World Bank Global Headquarters in Washington, DC between 4-7 November. The LJD Week is an annual international gathering of legal representatives of global nations, legal scholars, industry leaders and delegates, aimed at re-imagining and deliberating around the most pressing legal challenges affecting the world.

This year’s conference proceedings were focused on the theme of Rights, Technology and Development. Biometric Mirror was set up as an installation, and Niels Wouters delivered a talk on the project. These were well-received, with over 800 participants trialling the technology, and many conversations with the research team ensuing at the conference.

World Engineers Convention

The final installation of Biometric Mirror for the year was demonstrated at the World Engineers Convention. The conference was held close to home, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre between 20-22 November 2019. The conference occurs only once every four years. This year, some of the world’s leading engineers were brought together to focus on an important theme: Engineering a Sustainable World: The Next 100 Years.

Biometric Mirror was a stand-out at the conference, and a subject of great interest for many of the attendees. Engineers from around the world engaged in meaningful, ethical discussions around the topics of AI and facial analytics technologies - ultimately helping Biometric Mirror achieve its aim of prompting considerations around the potential of future uses of these types of technology. In his keynote address at the conference, MSE Dean, Prof. Mark Cassidy, reflected upon the role of Biometric Mirror in making tangible to society our increasing exposure to a future saturated with data and automated decision-making processes.

In other news

Niels Wouters and the project team - including IDL team members Frank Vetere, Eduardo Velluoso, Ryan Kelly, Hasan Shahid Ferdous, Zaher Joukhadar, Joshua Newn, Nick Smith, and Jingcheng Wang - have taken part in live demonstrations throughout the year, presenting Biometric Mirror at WEF Summer Davos, Melbourne Knowledge Week and Splendour in the Grass. Members of the wider research community and the general public have engaged with the AI in each of these spaces, forming their own attitudes and opinions on the anonymised data that Biometric Mirror presents to them.

To find out more, or stay up-to-date with Biometric Mirror, visit the website or follow Niels Wouters on Twitter.