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AI Case Study

The FBI is requesting product proposals for identifying distorted fingerprints through the use of machine learning

The FBI has requested US companies to propose AI-powered products that would enable the agency to identify fingerprints even if they have been distorted. This would be based on a self-learning approach to fingertips, as fingerprints they are fully formed at a very young age in humans. The deadline for companies was October 2018, although there are no further details on the project.


Public And Social Sector


Project Overview

"The FBI wants to use artificial intelligence to identify hardened criminals who have obscured their fingerprints by burning or cutting them.

he FBI has issued a request to technology companies across the United States for expert advice to help its Next Generation Identification (NGI) System project.

The government agency plans to use artificial intelligence to compensate for the missing portions of the as-yet unreadable fingerprints.

The new system will form part of the FBI's massive biometric database.

They are looking to create a system that could teach itself – and does not need to be pre-programmed for every possible eventuality with altered prints, according to Next Gov.

Criminals have been found to use a number of techniques to alter their fingerprints, including rubbing the skin, deliberately burning fingertips on a stove, dousing fingers in acid, and self-mutilation with razor blades.

According to Kasey Wertheim, an expert on fingerprint identification, the next step for hardened criminals could use plastic surgery techniques.

He said: 'Skin on the fingers and soles of your feet is actually quite thick but there has been speculation that lasers could potentially penetrate the friction ridge skin on your fingertips and alter the print.'

Fingerprints develop during the fourth month in utero and remain unchanged until death, when the distinctive patterns are destroyed by decomposition.

This consistency is why they are such an important tool for law enforcement.

'As those who seek to avoid identification continue to evolve their alteration techniques, it is critical that the NGI System maintain pace through the ability to learn in real time,' the FBI states.

Responses from technology and AI specialists are due on October 12, 2018.

It is currently unclear when – or if – the final system will be deployed by the FBI."

Reported Results

Planned; results not yet available




"For decades the practice of altering prints has helped criminals evade the law. Hardened criminals mask their identities by using acid or surgery on fingerprint



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