Corsight’s Upcoming DNA to FACE: 'Terrifying' Warns Privacy Expert
Corsight plans to release a new product that combines DNA and face recognition technology and could have significant law enforcement and privacy implications.
In this report, we examine Corsight’s product roadmap for "DNA to FACE," presented at the 2021 Imperial Capital Investors Conference, possible use cases for the technology, and warnings from a privacy expert.
IPVM collaborated with MIT Technology Review on this report, see the MIT Technology Review article: This company says it’s developing a system that can recognize your face from just your DNA
Corsight’s Roadmap - DNA to FACE Presented
Corsight's new product roadmap, shown below, included three products: "VOICE to FACE," "DNA to FACE," and "MOVEMENT".
In the slide, Corsight describes "DNA to FACE" as:
Constructs a physical profile by analyzing genetic material collected in a DNA sample
Prior to this presentation, IPVM was unaware of a company attempting to commercialize a face recognition product associated with a DNA sample.
Corsight did not provide details on how "VOICE to FACE" would work. The company's description of "MOVEMENT" is more commonly known as gait recognition. IPVM previously examined this analytic and its limitations.
"Company Confidential" - Confirms Intent to Launch
IPVM asked Corsight about "DNA to FACE" and its intended use. Watts replied to IPVM and, citing confidentiality concerns, declined to discuss "DNA to FACE" details. However, the CEO confirmed that Corsight intends to launch the product.
We are not engaging with the press at the moment as the details of what we are doing are company confidential. We will release information once the launch is announced.
Privacy Expert: Technology "Terrifying"
IPVM and MIT Technology Review spoke with privacy expert Albert Fox Cahn, founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. Cahn raised concerns of potential bias and capacity for error associated with combining DNA with face recognition technology, calling the combination 'terrifying':
The idea that you're now gonna try to combine the two technologies is really terrifying because not just because of the obvious potential drive of bias involved, but also the capacity for error here.
Cahn also questioned the feasibility of such technology:
The idea you're gonna be able to run a facial recognition search against a composite image and have anything approaching reliable results to me is just a staggering claim, it just seems inconceivable.
And so the idea that you're gonna be able to create something with the level of granularity and fidelity, that's necessary to run a face match search to me, that's preposterous, that is pseudoscience.
Possible Use Cases for DNA to FACE
While Corsight declined to elaborate on specific use cases, EVP Ofer Ronen stated during Corsight’s presentation that the progression of AI and machine learning have made this technology inevitable.
One of the plausible use case for combining the two technologies is law enforcement and forensic analysis of crime scenes. For example, creating a composite image of a suspect from DNA found at a crime scene would enable investigators to match the image to existing photo databases or show to witnesses. Conceptually, such technology could also be used to analyze cold cases involving DNA evidence.
Corsight risks significant resistance to the commercialization of "DNA to FACE." Because the specific use cases are not clear and the accuracy of Corsight's technology is unknown. If the product is eventually released, as Corsight intends, "DNA to FACE" will draw more scrutiny from law enforcement/legal and privacy-rights perspectives.