Now Google Can Read Your Lips, Automatic Captions to YouTube Videos

From AP (H/T Gizmodo):

Google Inc. said Thursday it is introducing automatic, machine-generated captions for videos on its YouTube site. The new service, being launched this week, is intended to make online videos accessible to the deaf and hearing-impaired.

So Google is tapping into the speech-recognition technology that it uses for its Google Voice call management service to make captions an automatic feature on YouTube.

In the meantime, Google is adding a new “auto-timing” feature to its existing manual captioning service to make it easier to use. Video creators will now simply have to create a text file with all the words spoken in a video and Google’s speech recognition technology will take it from there — matching the text to the words as they are spoken. Google hopes this will encourage more users to add captions to their videos.

So now Google knows what you read, knows what you write, and now knows the content of videos. By translating audio to text, Google, presumably can now index the transcript of a video.  Omniveillance is looming on the horizon.


Omniveillance in Court: Google to face Swiss court over “Street View”

From AFP:

Switzerland’s data protection commissioner on Friday announced that he was taking Google to court in a dispute over privacy concerns on the US Switzerland’s data protection commissioner on Friday announced that he was taking Google to court in a dispute over privacy concerns on the US Internet giant’s “Street View” facility.

Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, Hanspeter Thuer, said in a statement that he was taking the case to the Federal Administrative Tribunal after Google had refused to apply the majority of measures he had recommended.

Although American and Swiss privacy laws are substantially different, this case highlights the tenuous balance privacy hangs in when a company like Google aggregates so much information about so many people in so many different environs. See my article on Omniveillance and posts here.

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What does G-Mail know about you? Check the Google Dashboard

Now Google allows you to figure out all of the pieces of information they know about you through your Google Dashboard.

I predicted about 2 years ago that Google would be a driving force in aggregating all information about a  person’s Internet persona. This is exhibit A.

While it is currently private, I’m sure some Web 2.0 Exhibitionists would not mind making some of their social prowess public.

I had also predicted that Google could search through its Street View application, and by using simple facial recognition technology ,locate a user in their maps database. Though Google ultimately blurred faces, I can imagine this technology could easily be used to accomplish this end.

Check out this YouTube video explaining it.

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The Internet in Five Years, According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Omniveillance Still Looming on the Horizon

A cool post from ReadWriteWeb, titled Google’s Eric Schmidt on What the Web Will Look Like in 5 Years :

  • Five years from now the internet will be dominated by Chinese-language content.
  • Today’s teenagers are the model of how the web will work in five years – they jump from app to app to app seamlessly.
  • Five years is a factor of ten in Moore’s Law, meaning that computers will be capable of far more by that time than they are today.
  • Within five years there will be broadband well above 100MB in performance – and distribution distinctions between TV, radio and the web will go away.
  • “We’re starting to make significant money off of Youtube”, content will move towards more video.
  • “Real time information is just as valuable as all the other information, we want it included in our search results.”
  • There are many companies beyond Twitter and Facebook doing real time.
  • “We can index real-time info now – but how do we rank it?”
  • It’s because of this fundamental shift towards user-generated information that people will listen more to other people than to traditional sources. Learning how to rank that “is the great challenge of the age.” Schmidt believes Google can solve that problem.

Back in 2008, in my Omniveillance article, I discussed Mr. Schmidt’s predictions of where Google will be in the future.

In an interview conducted by the Financial Times, Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted the company’s future goal is to organize people’s daily lives.139 Specifically, Schmidt augured that one day “users [will] . . . be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’ ” and Google would be able to answer those questions.140 Udi Manber, Google’s Vice President of Engineering in charge of Google Search, reaffirmed this sentiment, and posited that Google has “to understand as much as we can user intent and give [users] the answer they need.”141 Mr. Schmidt acknowledged that the primary obstacle to this goal is not the technology, but the lack of information Google possesses about people.142

Talking to journalists in London, Mr. Schmidt stated, “We cannot even answer the most basic questions because we don’t know enough about you. That is the most important aspect of

Google’s expansion.”143 Mr. Schmidt acknowledged that Google is still in the early stages of gathering the information it has, and that algorithms can only be improved by better personalization.144 What Mr. Schmidt did not mention was how this personalization, that is, the collection of personal information, would take place. Google’s experiment in Nanaimo, British

Columbia shows how it can organize the aggregation of this data from the real world. If Google really plans on telling a person what to do or which job to take, information must be gathered from sources beyond those on the Internet-namely the real world.145 And that’s where Google Street View can come in.

The future of Omniveillance revolves around Google incorporating data from the real world into their massive search engine. While real-time social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook are effective means to assemble this information, monitoring public places is perhaps the most effective means. See my previous post discussing how researchers at Georgia Tech are incorporating real-time video into Google Street View Maps.

The Specter of Omniveillance is still looming on the horizon.

Check out the full interview here:

See also. County of Los Angeles votes to utilize Google Web services for City technology support.

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The Specter of Omniveillance is Looming on the Horizon. I hate being right.

About two years ago, I wrote an article about Google Street View, and the potential privacy implications.

From Gizmodo (H/T John P.) Google Earth Will Track Cars and People In Real Time, Eventually Destroy Privacy – Realtime cars – Gizmodo.:

This is one of the awesomestest and scariestest technology demonstrations I’ve seen in a long while: Georgia Institute of Technology’s students are using CCTV video to map actual vehicles and people into Google Earth. Why is this scary?Right now, all the data displayed is anonymous, which makes up for a cool looking technology. You could see a football game in real time or the actual traffic in your route to work. Eventually, you will be able to see clouds moving, the weather changing, and even birds move in real time…

Imagine that someone is able to tag you in some way. In theory, it could be as easy as having access to one of the CCTV cameras and this system. You mark a car on the screen and, provided that you have enough cameras along the way, the technology would be able to follow the vehicle wherever it goes. In England, for example, this will be really easy to do, because there are CCTV cameras absolutely everywhere. And let’s not talk about RFID tags.

See the video below for details

At the time, I wrote in my Omniveillance article (pp. 340-341):

Although the current version of Street View is limited to pre-recorded still photographs, future technology will allow real-time streaming video feeds of everything occurring in public . . . These omens ominously bear on the value of Street View, and create a scary image of what Google could do. Because there is no viable right to privacy in public, and because Google seeks to create a visual map of the planet, there is nothing preventing Google or any other company from installing such video cameras with tagging capabilities on the rooftops of private business throughout America. This vision of the future poses serious issues and conjures up an Orwellian nightmare…

If a live video feed of every action a person takes is recorded and broadcasted over the Internet, facial recognition technology … can be applied. The effect will be that the technology could instantly and automatically tag every person in a city. At any given moment, these cameras would know what stores a person goes to, what doctors a person visits, what activities a person engages in, and even if someone breaks the law. Currently, people who seek to stay out of the limelight can avoid using a computer, abstain from posting to blogs, and miss out on all of the fun of social networking. However, under this new regime, you can’t run; you can’t hide; there is no escape.

I really hate being right.

More after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Shoutout to Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett!

A few months ago I attended the Institute for Justice Law Student Conference.

Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court gave the keynote address. He was awesome. An amazing libertarian Judge from Texas who gets the idea of the role of the courts, understands principles of federalism, and embraces the spirit of liberty that imbibes the human soul.

During his keynote, he mentioned that he had cited YouTube in a footnote in his opinion. Strange coincidence, but in footnote 313 of my Omniveillance article, I had cited him!

FN 313. FKM P’ship v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Hous. Sys., 255 S.W.3d 619, 639 (Tex. 2008) (Willett, J., concurring in part, dissenting in part), available at

I realized it, and mentioned it to him after he finished speaking. He encouraged me to mail him a copy, which I did.

I just received a personal thank you note from Justice Willett! I won’t relay the message, but it was so cool.

Even cooler than the thank you note was the stamp on the envelope that reads “Don’t mess with Texas. Official State of Texas Mail. Penalty for Private Use.” Perfect timing for Will Ferrell’s perfect Bushism. Strategery!

Don't Mess With Texas. Especially their mail.

Don't Mess With Texas. Especially their mail.

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Excerpts of my Omniveillance article will be reprinted in a textbook.

I just received a copyright request to republish about 5 pages from my Omniveillance article. It will be published in Legal Issues In Electronic Commerce, edited by Prof. R. L. Campbell. They want to reprint pp.313-316, 391-392. I should receive a copy of the textbook in December, 2009. Sadly I won’t get paid, but this is still pretty cool!

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