The sublime and scary future of cameras with AI brains

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Others are using artificial intelligence to make cameras more useful. You’ve heard how Apple’s newest iPhone uses face recognition to unlock your phone. A start-up called Lighthouse AI wants to do something similar for your home, using a security camera that adds a layer of visual intelligence to the images it sees. When you mount its camera in your entryway, it can constantly analyze the scene, alerting you if your dog walker doesn’t show up, or if your kids aren’t home by a certain time after school.

It doesn’t take long to imagine the useful and very creepy possibilities of cameras that can decipher the world. Digital cameras brought about a revolution in photography, but until now, it was only a revolution of scale: Thanks to microchips, cameras got smaller and cheaper, and we began carrying them everywhere.

Now, A.I. will create a revolution in how cameras work, too. Smart cameras will let you analyze pictures with prosecutorial precision, raising the specter of a new kind of surveillance — not just by the government but by everyone around you, even your loved ones at home.