When it works, CV dazzle keeps facial-recognition algorithms from seeing a face. The technique takes its name from the dazzle camouflage of the two World Wars: The Great Power navies sought to protect their ships not by hiding them among the waves but by obscuring their size and movement. CV dazzle was developed by the artist, designer, and entrepreneur, Adam Harvey, who created the patterns as a student at NYU.
The idea behind CV dazzle is simple. Facial recognition algorithms look for certain patterns when they analyze images: patterns of light and dark in the cheekbones, or the way color is distributed on the nose bridge—a baseline amount of symmetry. These hallmarks all betray the uniqueness of a human visage. If you obstruct them, the algorithm can’t separate a face from any other swath of pixels.
The patterns in which I applied the paint were important: To the pixel-calculating machinations of facial recognition algorithms, they transformed my face into a mess of unremarkable pixels.
Fans of Philip K. Dick had a similar idea in the 1970's. His scramble suit is a device enables the wearer to defy description, both in person and in surveillance videos:
The scramble suit was an invention of the Bell laboratories, conjured up by accident by an employee named S. A. Powers... Basically, his design consisted of a multifaceted quartz lens hooked up to a million and a half physiognomic fraction-representations of various people: men and women, children, with every variant encoded and then projected outward in all directions equally onto a superthin shroudlike membrane large enough to fit around an average human.
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's scramble suit)