Europa451, laboratorio di giornalismo transnazionale e europeo


 
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Foto: Adriano Gasparri/Flickr
Una fotografia piuttosto precisa della nostra vita privata può essere composta utilizzando una serie di dati ormai di pubblico dominio, sopratutto grazie alla diffusione dei social media. Una ricerca di Alessandro Acquisti ha dimostrato come le foto sui social network possono essere usate per trovare moltissime informazioni. E non tutte vere. 

Una fotografia piuttosto precisa della nostra vita privata può essere composta utilizzando una serie di dati ormai di pubblico dominio, sopratutto grazie alla diffusione dei social media. Ma quanto è accurata questa foto? Nel luglio scorso a Las Vegas, durante una conferenza sulla sicurezza in Rete, Alessandro Acquisti, un professore di tecnologia e politica alla Carnegie Mellon University ha dimostrato come la foto di una persona può essere usata per trovare la sua data di nascita, il numero di previdenza sociale e tante altre informazioni, usando il riconoscimento facciale, cioè senza contare le altre tecniche di estrazione dati. Secondo Acquisti nel futuro tutta questa serie di informazioni potranno essere usate per pregiudicare a vari livelli le persone: Internet potrebbe diventare un posto dove chiunque sa chi sei.

Tutti sanno chi sei, ma non tutto è corretto
Oltre alle ovvie preoccupazioni rispetto al fatto che degli sconosciuti possono sapere delle cose su nostro conto, Acquisti solleva il problema su quello che succederà quando la tecnologia commetterà degli errori. «Siamo abituati a fare grosse estrapolazioni a partire da dati anche deboli. È impossibile opporsi a questa cosa, perché è nella nostra natura».

Alcune compagnie hanno già iniziato ad utilizzare i social media per rintracciare la reputazione di qualcuno. La californiana Social Intelligence fa degli screening di questo tipo dei suoi possibili impiegati per scoprire se hanno mai fatto affermazioni razziste o se sono apparsi su foto sessualmente esplicite; altre, come Klout, controllano il livello di “influenza digitale” dei loro impiegati permettendo forme di pubblicità e premi per quelli meglio “piazzati”.


Acquisti mostra anche il “tranello” dato dal fatto che ci si fida troppo dei dati che provengono dai social media. A questo scopo è stato realizzato un esperimento utilizzando una squadra di volontari e un programma di riconoscimento facciale, PittPatt (ora di Google). Tramite le foto si è risaliti al profilo Facebook, il quale spesso fornisce il nome vero, così come molte altre informazioni personali. L'equipe ha anche creato il prototipo di un'applicazione per smartphone che permettesse di compiere l'intera operazione.

Tramite questo esperimento il team di Acquisti è stato capace di ottenere l'esatto profilo di un terzo dei volontari. Il 70% delle volte sono stati in grado di prevedere correntemente gli interessi del soggetto, mentre nel 16% dei casi sono riusciti a trovare i primi cinque numeri di previdenza sociale dei soggetti. Ma questo significa anche che nei due terzi dei casi non sono stati in grado di identificare correttamente le persone. E, persino per coloro i cui dati erano corretti, nel 25% dei casi c'erano errori nell'identificazione degli interessi, mentre per l'80% c'erano errori sul numero di previdenza sociale.


Acquisti prevede che le tecniche di riconoscimento facciale miglioreranno nei prossimi anni, e si chiede cosa succederà una volta che queste saranno considerate abbastanza buone da potercisi fidare la maggior parte delle volte: «Diventerà un incubo per coloro che saranno vittima di errori» perché, continua, «non c'è nulla che noi, come individui, possiamo controllare». La grande questione è, secondo Acquisti, «come le nostre società gestiranno questa quantità di dati?».

Qui l'articolo completo di Technology Review

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