If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of someone looking over your shoulder trying to see what you were doing on your phone, Google engineers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff have you covered. The duo have created a new artificial intelligence-powered software that detects nosy people lurking behind your back.
The software continuously monitors the front camera to detect any spies while you are using your phone. When it sees someone looking at your screen, it automatically interrupts whatever you’re doing and shows you the video feed, highlighting the Peeping Tom by overlaying Snapchat-style rainbow vomit over their mouths. And, since the algorithm runs entirely on your phone, it does it all in just two milliseconds–and without a wireless connection to the internet.
The software, which will be presented at the beginning of December at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California, is a pretty neat trick that seems useful at first sight. But it may have some negative implications. For example, I’m not sure if you (or the people around you) would like your front camera to constantly watch your face and your surroundings while you’re using your phone. And I’m pretty sure that not everyone looking over your shoulder would necessarily be doing it with nefarious intentions. I can imagine this software interrupting your flow every five seconds while you’re riding the subway.
If you really don’t want people to see what you’re doing, maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t be frantically checking your Facebook or Instagram feed in the subway. Instead, maybe read a book. Play a game. Watch a movie. Or be present in the moment and be conscious of your life for 15 minutes. Exercising your non-artificial intelligence is always a good option.