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Face Recognition - Real or Science Fiction? 202

An anonymous reader writes "Facial recognition software has been touted as one of the technologies that will change our future, particularly in law enforcement. How close are we to being recognized by a computer anywhere we go, as portrayed in movies like Minority Report? According to the industry's recent Public Relations releases, these products are closer than we think. The reality though, is that current products work only when utilizing a small comparative sample, and any attempts for an individual to disguise themselves typically throw off the results. To see how far this technology needs to go before becoming mainstream, one site utilized Government-tested face recognition software, available freely through MyHeritage.com, to compare hundreds of famous people, animals, and cartoons to a database of 2,000 celebrities. Some of the results showed promise for the technology, but most were just funny — for example, who would mistake Barbara Streisand for Shrek, or Lance Bass of N'Sync for a Teletubby?"
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Face Recognition - Real or Science Fiction?

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  • by Lurker2288 ( 995635 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:44AM (#16577946)
    "who would mistake Barbara Streisand for Shrek, or Lance Bass of N'Sync for a Teletubby?"

    I think it's more a question of 'how many beers' than of 'who.'
    • Re:trick question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:36AM (#16578824) Journal
      Or what computer program, camera, and lighting that you have. And add facial hair (perhaps on all), cosmetics(again on all), or even haircuts. Basically, it will always fail on those that do not want to be recognized. But down the road(20 year), it will work well on those that are not suspecting it i.e. it will be a good way to track down regular citizens when the government is granted the power to grab whoever they want and attribute it to say terrorism. Fortunately, we are a long ways from that. Or are we?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I've never seen them in the same place at the same time. Hmm...
  • by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:45AM (#16577960)
    After working in computer vision for 5 years I've realized that most problems aren't hard - they are not well defined. Mathematically face recognition is not a problem that can be stated.

    Many other problems in CV are like this - edge detection, segmentation, etc. But people write hacks that work in restricted conditions and say they've solved.

    And look, you could always just put on those Groucho Marx glasses.
    • by PieSquared ( 867490 ) <isosceles2006&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:08AM (#16578346)
      I think the real problem is what it looks at. The shape of your face is what it looks at. What if you put a little clay or really thick makeup around your jaw and cheek bones to change your visible facial structure... and of course facial hair can be shaped to look like pretty much anything is under it without even adding anything artificial to your face. And of course, you'll need multiple frames of reference with a wide angle between them to get any useful information anyway... you can't really judge depth from a single frame and if you try a little eyeshadow will throw it off. I can only see facial recognition as proving that you aren't someone smaller then you are, not that you are a specific person. And of course you could always get one of those masks from mission impossible! Yea, that's what I thought!
      • Here are two [wikipedia.org] pictures [comedy-zone.net] of Matt Stone, one of the pictures of South Park, just to prove your point.
      • Maybe they should just x-ray your skull and forget the face altogether. I don't think a lot of people would want to alter the shape of their skull just to avoid detection. They could probably make it safer by using ultrasound instead of xrays or something. I wonder how feasable this is?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by john83 ( 923470 )
          That's just what I need: Tesco X-raying my head every time I walk into the store to direct me to specials on items I might want. It'll break as soon as I develop super-powers from all the X-rays though.
        • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )
          And think how funny it would be when that car crash victim gets out of the hospital only to find out that he's locked out of his house.

          Layne
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by perlchild ( 582235 )
          Are skulls that unique? I was sure the unicity was contributed to by not just bone structure, but muscle structure, cartilage(the nose) and pigmentation. In fact, do we know for sure that no two faces are unique? Until facial recognition can tell fraternal twins better than a human can, perhaps we shouldn't put those in mission critical environments, shall we?
      • I got matched to Kevin Costner, whose face is shaped nothing like mine (his is long and angular; mine is pretty round) because we were wearing similar glasses and both smiling.
    • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:23AM (#16578628) Journal
      But don't we almost always get a computer to solve a problem that's not strictly a mathematical one using "hacks that only work in restricted conditions"?

      Our spell-checkers in our word processors don't actually know anything about the rules of a language, phonics, etc. They just do lookups from a dictionary. If a word's not listed, it has no idea if it's spelled properly or not -- even if the misspelling is one that's simply not a possible correct sequence of letters for the language. Most don't even realize if a word is misspelled in the context of the sentence, as long as it matches a correct spelling in the word list.

      Until we figure out how the human brain recognizes faces as individuals, we can't expect anything *but* a clever hack for a computer to do the same. And truthfully, I suspect the human brain takes many things into account to do a "recognition" on a person. How often do you see somebody in the store that you're pretty sure you know from a previous job, school, etc. but you're not quite sure? I've had this happen a few times, and to make a better determination, I had to take other factors into account, like the sound of their voice if I heard them speak, the way they walked, or maybe an expression that came across their face. Humans "key in" on specific things that help them remember a person. And depending on which "features" they chose, they may or may not be effective. (Say you remember a gal really well because of her long, flowing hair? If she cuts it real short, there's a good chance you won't recognize her at all anymore if she walks by you.)
      • ``Our spell-checkers in our word processors don't actually know anything about the rules of a language, phonics, etc. They just do lookups from a dictionary. If a word's not listed, it has no idea if it's spelled properly or not''

        That goes for spell checking in general, also when it's not being performed by computers. Whether or not a word is spelled correctly is exactly equivalent to whether or not that word exists in a dictionary containing all words in the language...and no such dictionary exists. The be
        • Yes, but that's not exaactly my point. I'm not arguing it's a very effective and efficient way for computers to verify the correct spelling of words. We've been doing it for at least what, 15-20 years now, in our software packages?

          My point was more the fact that a human would usually catch certain errors that a spell checker won't necessarily catch. For example, in the English language, we know that q is always followed by u in our words. But a spell checker has no such information coded into it. It pr
          • ``My point was more the fact that a human would usually catch certain errors that a spell checker won't necessarily catch. For example, in the English language, we know that q is always followed by u in our words.''

            I understood that, but I don't think it works. At the end of the day, spelling is _not_ bound by rules that are consistently followed in most languages. Even if it were in English, you would run into trouble with things like names and loanwords. For example, you say q is always followed by u, but
    • by Illserve ( 56215 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:48AM (#16579048)
      Many other problems in CV are like this - edge detection, segmentation, etc. But people write hacks that work in restricted conditions and say they've solved.

      Having worked in brain science for years I can say that the brain itself is a collection of hacks.

      It's just a very huge collection that covers all of the bases that we find ourselves in from day to day. Put a brain in a situation it's not designed to handle and it breaks down just as badly as many artificial CV algorithms do.
      • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @12:41PM (#16581312) Homepage Journal
        Brain hacks seem to be fundamentally different than computer hacks. Or, the brain seems to have a collection of hacks that we have almost no understanding of, in addition to the hacks that we do understand.

        Ever since the advent of solid state electronics, it was said to be only a matter of time before robots would be sweeping, washing dishes, performing surgery, etc.

        Things that we think are really simple, that even retarded people can do, like recognize a face or a voice, understand speech, move bipedally with grace (hell, with any number of legs -- 2, 4 or 6), pour a glass of water, etc. are *hard* for robots and AI. We don't even have a model for how these things work. Even really dumb animals like turkeys can run through their environments and successfully hunt and catch flying insects.

        We do have robots that are getting good with articulation, like Asimo, but we still aren't sure whether they are using the same 'tricks' that organisms use. That is to say, they are a solution to the problem of bipedal motion, but we don't know if they are the same solution that the human mind is. I'm not sure that we have even a model of what solutions organisms use.

        Meanwhile, things that we think are difficult, like playing chess, factoring polynomials, or other kinds of difficult math, are easy for a computer. Now we know that the brain can do complex math like trigonometry, in order to accomplish tasks like catching a ball. but that doesn't help the average person play chess or do complex math on paper. However, the average person excels at these hard AI problems, like having a conversation or pouring a glass of water.
        • by Illserve ( 56215 )
          Brain hacks seem to be fundamentally different than computer hacks. Or, the brain seems to have a collection of hacks that we have almost no understanding of, in addition to the hacks that we do understand.

          I think it's just that the underlying information representation is different. If you build neural networks that closely mimic the information proccesing of the brain you can get patterns of behavior that's remarkably similar. That is, they are good at the same kind of problems the brain is good at.

          N
          • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
            I guess my point is that I'm interested in understanding what the actual underlying mechanism is. Even if synthetic, electronic nueral networks can emulate perfectly all of the behaviors that an organic nervous system can, I'm still interested in the organic nervous system in and of itself.

            As a layperson, I'm still skeptical that the nueral network is the same 'type' of system that an organic nervous sytem is. I think your argument is that, in the same way that a solid state computer is qualitatively the
            • by Illserve ( 56215 )
              At this point, I have a hunch that the organic nervous system is a different type of system than a nueral network.

              Based on the available evidence, it doesn't seem to be. We know that neurons transmit information to each other, and we know, down to fairly meticulous levels of detail, how that transmission happens and what changes it causes at the other side. We don't know everything about what happens inside the cell, but we know quite alot about the form and timing of the messages (spikes) they send to ea
              • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
                "We know that neurons transmit information to each other, and we know, down to fairly meticulous levels of detail, how that transmission happens and what changes it causes at the other side."

                That really doesn't tell us anything about mental phenomena. We don't know what that information is. We don't have a definition of a thought, emotion or memory at the nueron level. We just know that they have a level of activity that is correlated with some broad mental phenomena, like 'depression' or 'vision'.

                Basic
                • by Illserve ( 56215 )
                  Of course we don't have a good understanding of how the mind works.

                  But if we have an understanding of the mechanistic processes underlying brain function, then we can simulate them, and therefore a human mind, on a turing machine, case closed.

                  I'll believe it when I have a conversation with a computer, or one shows that it can recognize faces -- when there is an artificial device that can handle a 'hard AI' problem. AFAIK, nueral networks can't ( or don't yet ) model the behavior of worms, which have the sim
      • by Zordak ( 123132 )
        Put a brain in a situation it's not designed to handle and it breaks down just as badly as many artificial CV algorithms do.
        Wow, I have never seen a more concise and accurate description of Congress. Thank you.
    • Or stuff your face a la The Godfather... "What have I done to deesurf dees?" But, in case the camera has gait analysis algorithms, then you have to sway and swagger like that black slimy zombie in "Return of the Living Dead".

      Actually, you might want to watch Jet Li's/Simon Yam's "The Hit Man". It was made before 1998, and it showed (probably studio exaggerated, tho) gate analysis with facial matching software to track down an assassin. Looked pretty kewl for the time. (Beware: there are two versions: the HK
    • by Wolfger ( 96957 )

      And look, you could always just put on those Groucho Marx glasses.

      That's not even necessary. Gain or loose some weight. I submitted two different photos for celebrity face comparissons, and both came back with radically different answers. One pics was a couple years old, when I was on a diet, and one was just a few months old, 1 year off the diet. So which is it? Do I look like Adam West, or O.J. Simpson? (...and the photo that matched with OJ also matched me up with Natalie Portman... That's scary!)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bzipitidoo ( 647217 )

      I also worked on a project to compare images. The idea was general purpose, not just for faces only. Unfortunately, it didn't really work. I took the woefully slow prototype and rewrote it so it worked correctly, and was far faster. And all that did was help destroy their illusions and delusions that it was going to work. Before, they could be optimistic because it wasn't fast enough to do hundreds of tests, and so they were able to point to extremely small sets of data upon which it had apparently mo

    • I'm afraid I'm going to call shennanigans on some of this. I've been doing Vision work for about 5 years now with a hefty does of image and signal processing in the mix(Working as gradstudent in the field right now in fact). Edge detection is well defined. The canny and shah-istan(think that's the name) are about as close to a mathematical optimal edge detector as one can get. There is in fact a well developed body of theory regarding differentiation of Signals. The problem doesn't lie in the mathematic
  • recognized (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AcidLacedPenguiN ( 835552 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:46AM (#16577982)
    This is all well and good, but the minute I get falsely identfied as a criminal just for being in the bar district late at night in the wrong place/wrong time I won't be too happy. . .
  • so I guess... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theStorminMormon ( 883615 ) <theStorminMormon ... l.com minus city> on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:46AM (#16577988) Homepage Journal
    So I guess next time a teletubby or Shrek wanders through a mall, they're totally going to throw off the face-recognition software.

    Is it just me, or does that seem like a stupid way to test the software? If you want to show that rudimentary disguise is an easy way to get around it, that's valid, but just messing with the sample of potential matches by throwing in cartoon characters destroys the validity of the "study".

    -stormin
    • . . .Though I'll still laugh when Streisand gets framed for robbing a bank or something. . .
      • by misleb ( 129952 )
        . .Though I'll still laugh when Streisand gets framed for robbing a bank or something. . .


        But how are you going to convince Shrek to rob a bank?

        -matthew
    • Report to PHB version 1:- This software is so poor it threw up many false positives
      PHB :- This software get's positive results. We'll buy it!

      Report to PHB version 2:- This software is so bad it confuses Barbara Striesland and Shrek
      PHB :- My kid wouldn't get those two confused. We won't buy it.

      A 'good' report depends on it's audience. For most /.ers we would want to inspect the data and see a proper statistical breakdown of the results. To catch the public's attention, however, you need to add a few cele
    • by d474 ( 695126 )
      "Shrek" might be in a store's window display, as a cardboard cut-out. So when the Feds are looking for Barbara, they may get "false positives" from mall video surveillance all over the country.

      Just saying...
  • But I thought (Score:3, Informative)

    by xirtap ( 955611 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:47AM (#16578000)
    I thought they used chips in the eyes of people in minority report, not face recognition.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by john83 ( 923470 )
      I thought they used chips in the eyes of people in minority report, not face recognition.
      Retina recognition, I think.
  • MyHeritage site (Score:5, Informative)

    by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:48AM (#16578014) Homepage
    I've tried out the software and it was fun for some laughs. I'm not sure how it works exactly but I can tell that the angle of the face makes a difference. When I put one picture of myself in where I'm looking ever so slightly to the right, I'm matched with celebrities photos looking in that direction. When I put in a similar photo facing the other direction, I get a different set of celebrities looking in the other direction. There's a few overlaps and those are the ones I think I look the most like (although it's a stretch to say I have anything that could pass as a celebrity look).
    • Evidently, I look a lot like Tom Cruise. Well, actually, the first hit was Matt Stone [wikipedia.org], but with a much less flattering picture. Tom Cruise was 4th or 5th on the list, after Luke Wilson. Here was the picture [virginia.edu] I submitted. Naturally, I'm being sarcastic when I say it's flawless.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wubby ( 56755 )
      I saw the same thing. Also, if the person in the image is doing something with their face (smiling, open mouth, wide eyes) it tends to match with images of people doing the same thing. Kinda simplistic, more like a trick than a tool.
      • by misleb ( 129952 )
        Oh, I have a great idea. If they ever start making wide use of this technology in public places (I'm looking at you, England), all you need to do is smile all the time. Chances are that if you are matched with someone, it will be someone happy, and therefore, probably not a criminal (how many criminals smile for their mugshot?)

        -matthew
    • Gimp your eyes.. one up and one down. Round out your mouth like Nancy Crater (the Salt Monster from Star Trek's "Man Trap" episode). Be sure to put a stringy mop on your yead. Add a couple of black dots or raisins to your face to see if actors with moles come up.

      Or, adjust your hair with hair glue. See if Sid Vicious or Suicidal Tendencies or the like appear...
    • by tomzyk ( 158497 )
      Yeah, the site seems to be mainly for entertainment than practical purposes.

      They even kind of lie in the examples they show on that SayNoToCrack site. The first Bill Clinton picture that they show that they say immediately recognizes him... is the same picture. (one in color, the other in black and white)

      From testing a few photos of me and some friends I noticed some of the same things you did. My pictures would always return a different set of recognitions based on the size of the smile on my face or the a
    • I've tried out the software and it was fun for some laughs. I'm not sure how it works exactly but I can tell that the angle of the face makes a difference. When I put one picture of myself in where I'm looking ever so slightly to the right, I'm matched with celebrities photos looking in that direction. When I put in a similar photo facing the other direction, I get a different set of celebrities looking in the other direction. There's a few overlaps and those are the ones I think I look the most like (altho

  • Inevitable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:49AM (#16578034) Journal

    Not to nitpick excessively, but you could easily substitute portions of this article with terms like (and relating to) “Internet”, “personal computer”, “telephone”, “car”, and others. Asking ourselves if a technology is “real or science fiction” when it already exists (albiet in a primitive form) is silly. Of course it exists; the question itself cites examples. Perhaps the meaningful questions might be along the lines of: “what are the challenges associated with making it accurate?” or “what impact will facial recognition have on society?”

  • Legal hoops (Score:2, Interesting)

    by solevita ( 967690 )
    I'm wondering about the legality of all this, especially in a criminal justice system. My DNA, for example, can't be used in court as evidence unless certain hoops have been jumped through; the prosecutor needs a reason to obtain a DNA sample and then procedures must be followed.

    I wonder if the same systems will apply to a computer analysed image of my face; will there be a criterea for when this image is admissable in court? Will I have rights concerning my image? Or are we just going towards a 1984 styl
    • Re:Legal hoops (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:17AM (#16578512)
      Using a computer-captured image of your face in Court would presumably come under the same rules as using a photograph of your face. More or less, if you appear in public, your image can be used.

      The more interesting question, I suggest, is whether a computer recognition of your face is going to be in any way equivalent to a human recognition of your face.

      For example: if you stroll into a 7-Eleven, and the donuphage with a badge sitting there swilling coffee thinks you look like a famous bank robber whose mug has been circulated by the FBI, then he's entitled to take you into custody, and search you (for his own safety and those nearby, et cetera). If he finds half a gram of coke on you, you're in trouble. Now suppose it isn't the cop's eye/brain combination that "recognizes" you as a bank robber, but rather his shoulder-mounted camera/computer combination. Is he still entitled to act in the same way?

      You can argue it both ways: (1) the camera/computer is almost certainly always going to be worse at this kind of thing than the eye/brain. Recognition is about the single most important thing our eyes and brains do, and they are highly optimized for it by natural selection. If it could be done better and faster, we would do it. So, we should trust the camera/computer less. But (2) the camera/computer is not subject to the vagaries of human psychology, mood, et cetera. The cop may take you in unreasonably because he doesn't like your skin color or length of hair, the camera/computer isn't subject to the same prejudices. So maybe it's better to trust the mindless device.
      • Re:Legal hoops (Score:5, Insightful)

        by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:30AM (#16578728) Homepage
        or, maybe it's better to not carry a half-gram of coke on you.
      • by d474 ( 695126 )
        I would assume that this software is really just a way for computers to sift through lots of photo/video to look for possible matches - it is then the job of humans to make the final call. Even humans make false positive id's, so we can hardly expect computers to ever be better at judging such a subjective and changing real world feature as the human face.
      • by Zaatxe ( 939368 )
        Depending on what the standard procedure would be, you could get away with your half gram of coke much more easily with the face recognition. Probably the face recognition equipment would beep and show the cop your face and a pic of who it thinks you are. The cop would be looking to both pics in the same screen, if they aren't the same people, he would probably spot it in the blink of an eye. Instead, if he relies only on his memory, he could make a "honest mistake".

        People rely more and more on technology
      • When is the last time you saw a fat, donut eating cop catch a determined and coked up suspect in a foot chase?? Recognition is only half the battle...
      • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )
        Well, the best use of the technology would be for the shoulder mounted camera to scan your face, flag it as a possible suspect, and then the pseudo-fuzz (or real fuzz) would be presented with a screen containing several images (similar to the "line-up" they do on Law & Order). If the cop picks the "right" one as matching your face, then you can be detained pretty much the same way they could do it now.....just technology assisted.

        Layne
    • They're not trying to use this to prove you are one person or another in court.

      If you have a surveillance video of a crime scene, and a huge database of faces of citizens, then you could use this to narrow down your list of suspects. Obviously once it ever gets to the court system, there will be plenty of human experts on hand to look at the camera footage and testify as to whether it looks like you.

      Also, this could be used to flag "suspicious" people at airports and other places. That way, the human securi
    • IF by "certain hoops" you mean "anyone ever arrested, regardless if they were ever charged", then yes.
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2005/09/23/AR2005092301665.html [washingtonpost.com]
    • by MBCook ( 132727 )

      Why? They have to get the warrant to get your DNA. Once they have it, they can test it.

      Getting a picture is easy. In fact, they take one when they book you. Why shouldn't they be able to use it?

      Also, they use non-scientific face matching all the time (line-ups and eye-witnesses). Why shouldn't they be allowed to do the same thing with a more accurate and unbiased judge like a computer over a person (who may be the victim, or biased in some other way)?

      I would think it would be allowed now without any kind

  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:52AM (#16578092)
    For example, who would mistake Barbara Streisand for Shrek, or Lance Bass of N'Sync for a Teletubby?

    So, i see it's working correctly!
  • Humans seem to have no problem with it, so it's clearly possible.
    • by drnlm ( 533500 )
      It's perfectly possible to get very good results on comparatively small databases (a few 100 faces). See the comprative tests conducted on the Surrey XM2VTS database, or the FERET test runs. These tests don't adress the disguise issues, but do address natural variation over time (breads, hair-style, presence or absence of glasses). Partly because computer vision is still a comparatively young field, there's very little work on performance of long time periods. Most databases cover only two or three years

      I

  • Isn't this the sort of problem that might be well-addressed with genetic algorithms? We've got a problem that we can't really define well (mathematically), but we know what good results should look like. So the actualy process to solve the problem is hard to design, but a test for good results is (comparatively) easy to design.

    That sounds exactly like the sort of problem that you could use GAs on.

    Unless, of course, I'm completely wrong about the state of the art in genetic algorithms, or am making some othe
    • Sounds good. You could use GA guided neural networks. Worked once (i.e., us), so it stands to reason it could work again. I'd set up an input system similar to how we understand V1 to work, and then let the GA explore over a range of options for V2, V3, and V4. Each of these would be constrained by some of our best guesses of how they work in humans. I've been trying similar things recently with a model of the hippocampus [neurojet.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MBCook ( 132727 )

        The problem is the inputs. Do you inputs sets of geometry (eyes are X" apart, at an angle of 0.53 degrees, chin is .5" below lips, blah blah blah), the raw image, or something else? If you use the raw image, you'd need a system in the front end scale/rotate the images to be in about the same place otherwise you probably have no chance (unless you want your neural net to do that TOO, which would make training harder and take longer).

        Even if you use geometry (we have a vague understanding of what makes peopl

        • If I was training to match V1-4, I'd have the input come from two "eyes" with inputs similar to what our eyes actually provide to our brain. We know quite a bit about visual cortex, but there's a lot we don't know. Initially, I'd train it using a batch of photographs for a single person (we'll call her "Momma") and then I'd train with a few others (where a match is a match only if it's the same person). From there, I'd create histograms of parameter settings that seem to do an adequate job on this small set

    • by vidnet ( 580068 )
      but a test for good results is (comparatively) easy to design.

      Actually, it's terribly hard. You can say that "this picture should match this person and that picture should match that person", and that will give you an algorithm that works great on those faces, but can/will give horrible results on everything else.

      Of course, if your genotype representation is good, a GA would surely do wonders, but then you're basically back to where you started, how to represent and interpret a face in general.
  • Cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by broothal ( 186066 )
    Okay, so I look like your regular geek. I'm fat and bald. Yet I apparently look like some hot female movie stars. 80% like Grace Kelly. Not sure if I can link directly to a result. Let's try: http://www.myheritage.com/FP/photo.php?siteID=1&p h otoID=5969307&source=album&sourceID=963790&albumID =963790 [myheritage.com]

    Granted - the examples looked pretty good, but I just can't see Grace Kelly when I look myself in the mirror.
  • Here to Stay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:11AM (#16578376) Homepage Journal
    I believe Minority Report used retina scans, but that nit aside facial recognition works to a degree and will only get better. Security cams will eventually upgrade to HDTV resolutions, perhaps augmented with very high resolution stills when a potential match is made. This will all take more processing power, but all mighty god Moore will eventually gives us this day our daily CPU load.

    About false positives. So what? Eyewitnesses make mistakes also. Eventually, perhaps very soon, machines will surpass humans in this arena just as they have in others. Can anyone here on Slashdot defeat Deep Blue at Chess?

    As to the legality or ethics, what can be done will be done, at least in public areas. If it would be legal for a human to do (they haven't outlawed humans scanning for suspects in public areas) then it will be legal for machines to do despite the unease many will feel knowing they are constantly being watched.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:15AM (#16578466) Homepage
    Some of the results showed promise for the technology, but most were just funny -- for example, who would mistake Barbara Streisand for Shrek, or Lance Bass of N'Sync for a Teletubby?"
    That's just trolling. The software was instructed to find the celebrity who most closely matched a cartoon character. It didn't mistake anyone for a cartoon character. And since cartoon characters are not within the scope of what the software is for, it shows that it worked better than expected. Attempts like this to belittle the success of the technology are akin to Ad Hominem attacks, and have no merit in a discussion.
  • Cartman: Try this on for size. Blood-drenched, frozen tampon popsicle!
    Sadaam Hussein: Hey buddy, I know I was mean before, but don't worry, I can change!
    Cartman: Okay.
    Not. Fuck, shit, cock, ass, dildo, boner, bitch, pussy, butthole, Barbara Streisand!
  • What about plastic surgery? Identical twins? Even a close sibling could be similar enough to fool software in some cases.

    On the other hand, fingerprints are completely unique, even between identical twins, and (last I heard) unchangeable. Researchers would be better off spending time on improving fingerprint-scanning technology for identification purposes, although clearly face scanning would be even less intrusive for other tasks.
    • by taustin ( 171655 )
      Fingerprint scanners are trivial to spoof, using a variety of techniques. It's not all that hard to covertly get someone to handle a hard, smooth object (like a glass), and collect their fingerprint. A little scanning, some photo-etching plates and a little make-up quality latex, and it would probably pass even a cursory visual exam by a live security guard.

      Plus, as I recall, Mythbusters fooled one of the more expensive, brand new design, "never been cracked" fingerprint scanne with a xerox of a fingerprint
      • by cdrguru ( 88047 )
        Fingerprint scanners come in a variety of forms. The optical ones can be spoofed pretty simply.

        The RF ones can't be. They work very well and are extremely easy to use and accurate. No way can they be spoofed by anything except a finger. And some versions can detect a pulse so even a cut-off finger that was warm wouldn't work.
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:33AM (#16578776) Homepage
    Every morning I wake up to look into the mirror and it's a different face that I don't recognized. Maybe I need to upgrade my mirror?
  • Showing the resemblance in absolute numbers, better with some P-value or E-value.
  • We simply need strong pattern matching algorithms for images...then anything could be recognizable. The brain uses pattern matching, doesn't it?
  • retinal scanning (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jack Sombra ( 948340 )
    "How close are we to being recognized by a computer anywhere we go, as portrayed in movies like Minority Report?"
    Now I could be wrong but I am pretty sure Minority report was portraying retinal scanning not facial recognition
  • Think about "voice typewriters." Then think about what we really have. Yes, speaker-independent voice recognition systems that can recognize the words "yes" and "no" and the digits from 0 to 9 exist, and work reasonably well for short strings of digits like ID numbers that can be read back to the caller.

    No, we do not have voice typewriters, and if you don't believe that, well all I can say is, "dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all."

    A face recognition system that could be mounted in a
  • reading up on how cognitec (the folks supplying the facial recognition capabilities) do the facial recognition, i'm utterly unsurprised by these results.

    in a nutshell, they apply face detection to localize faces in the image (good, although they're clearly ignoring the flesh color cue since that would have immediately ruled out shrek), then they scale and rotate the face to a fixed, standard position based on the position of the eyes (since they only have two points, they're absolutely limited to planar rot
  • Tokyo train station gets facial scan payment systems
    http://www.engadget.com/2006/04/27/tokyo-train-sta [engadget.com] tion-gets-facial-scan-payment-systems/ [engadget.com]

    Your face could soon become just another 'bar code'
    SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS AT STATIONS
    http://www.infowars.com/articles/bb/biometrics_you r_face_could_be_barcode.htm [infowars.com]

    Tokyo's Kasumigaseki Station
    http://www.smartmobs.com/archive/2006/04/26/tokyos _kasumig.html [smartmobs.com]
  • ...that I remember seeing this guy [ic.ac.uk] in all the popular science magazines touting his facial recognition system. They demonstrated it on TV showing that facial recognition was already here. 20 years later, it's gone without a trace. I don't mean to pick on Igor (I owe him because he taught me digital electronics when I was a kid), he's just one of many people who've made ridiculous claims that the popular science press fall for over the years.

    So not only do I not believe claims that facial recognition "is c

  • Teleportation is science fiction. Antigravity is science fiction. Time travel is science fiction.

    Face recognition is definitely NOT science fiction. Humans can do it, as can chimps, dogs, dolphins, horses, to some degree. Computers can sort of do it in restricted situations. Clearly no laws of the universe need to be violated in order to make an effective computer face recognition system...
    • by AusIV ( 950840 )
      Cell phones, personal computers and space travel were all science fiction at one time. No laws of the universe needed to be violated to make them a reality. I believe the headline is referring to the current state of face recognition. Are there programs that can accurately identify people by face identification, or does that (at this moment) only exist in the realm of sci-fi? Science fiction describes things that may some day be possible (without violating laws of physics), otherwise it's fantasy. This line
  • It doesn't matter how good the automatic recognition is, the false positive problem will always dominate the performance. Suppose it is 100% accurate at recognising bad guys, but generates a false positive 1 out 10,000 faces? In a busy airport that may mean 20 or 30 false recognitions a day and each may require a full security alert.
    • You don't need high tech for false positives.
      One of my former boss has the same name as a criminal WHO IS STILL IN PRISON and it is a real PITA every time he has to take the plane.
  • Near Tampa put a system into practice a couple of years ago. First time out of the barrel it IDed a "criminal" who turned out to be someone else.

    Sorry, no sale.
  • As long as we get "probable cause" out of it, it's good enough.
  • "From today [October 05, 2006] all British citizens renewing their passport will receive a new biometric passport. The hi-tech, or ePassports contain a secure chip with an image of the holder's face, and are designed to make forgery more difficult and improve international security ... also from today passport fees will rise. A 10-year adult passport will now cost £66" - Times [timesonline.co.uk]

    Q. So why are we paying this tax on holidays [theherald.co.uk] for a technology that apparantly couldn't tell Osama bin Laden from Captain Bir [bbc.co.uk]
  • I haven't read the article, but I've used MyHeritage before. It doesn't do a very good job at all. You can tell it takes cues off incidental things like: which direction the light source in the pictures are coming from, what angle your face is at, how much are you smiling, and what style of glasses you're wearing. Good facial recognition software needs to be able to ignore these things and look instead at the actual shape of a face.
  • $150,000 for a face recognition system. It ran for two years, seeded with all known local offenders. It never found one despite the fact that cops caught some in the areas of cameras. They shut it off after two years of failure.

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