AI Facial Profiling, Levels of Paranoia


In this digital age, biometric-based surveillance systems that incorporate artificial intelligence are becoming more common. AI companies claim that their AI technologies can analyze the physical characteristics of a person’s face and thus predict subtle patterns of “suspect” personality types. 

Inspired by the recent psychometric research papers who claimed to use an AI to detect the criminal potential of a person based only on a photo of his face, and taking the world of firearms as a starting point, we present a “physiognomic machine”, a computer vision and pattern recognition system that detects the ability of an individual to handle firearms and predicts his potential danger from a biometric analysis of his face. The device is based on a camera-weapon that captures faces as well as a machine with artificial intelligence and a mechanical system that classifies the profiled persons into two categories, those who present a high risk of being a threat and those who present a lower risk. 

Between fiction and reality, this installation proposes an experience inspired by the protocols of security infrastructures and takes the individual as the starting point for a critical reflection about algorithmic biases; a narrative that refers to the trust and legitimization of empowering decision-making of intelligent artifacts.


This project is the result of a collaboration with Laurent Weingart, software and security engineer and Marc Wettstein, mechatronic engineer. It has received the kind support of the International Committee of the Red Cross‎ and the Fonds Cantonal d'Art Contemporain de Genève.

AI Facial Profiling, Levels of Paranoia 
Mirage Festival #7 — Turbulences
Credits: video courtesy of Matcha and thumbnail photo courtesy of Marion Bornaz.


Photographs © HEAD – Genève, Batiste Coulon and © Sandra Pointet / Local F11, Geneva

CICR — Digital Risk in Situations of Armed Conflict  /  CodeNode, London 2018