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Face Recognition Maps History Via Art

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the computers-confused-by-lack-of-eyebrows dept.

AI 36

mikejuk writes "Face recognition techniques usually come with a certain amount of controversy. A new application, however, is unlikely to trigger any privacy concerns — because all of the subjects are long dead. 'FACES: Faces, Art, and Computerized Evaluation Systems' will attempt to apply face recognition software to portraits. Three University of California, Riverside researchers have just received funding to try and piece together the who's who in history. 'Almost every portrait painted before the 19th century was of a person of some importance. As families fell on hard times, many of these portraits were sold and the identities of these subjects were lost. The question we hope to answer is, can we restore these identities?' If the algorithm can be fine tuned we can look forward to the digitized collections of museums and art galleries around the world suddenly yielding a who-knew-who social network graph that could put more science, and computer science at that, into history."

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36 comments

So it's not enough to constantly rape the privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833681)

of people who are alive today? Now you also have to do it with long since dead people? Sigh.

Fight for privacy [plainboards.com] .

Just Imagine... (4, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833685)

Think of the possibilities...
If I could know for sure that the eldest daughter of the 1st Earl of Huntshire was a good friend of the young wife of the wealthy merchant heir James Strickthorpe, well... it would completely change my life.

Re:Just Imagine... (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833907)

Great now even dead people are jumping on the social networking craze.

We'll call the site... (3, Funny)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834197)

CorpseBook.

Re:Just Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39841861)

Now we will be able to find that meddlesome time-lord that keeps cropping up and ruining our history books.

Re:Just Imagine... (1)

LienRag (1787684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842457)

Actually if this could work (which I'm not certain since painting is not an exact science, and since computers and software are not fairy-build devices that can magically transform low-quality inputs in high-quality outputs) it could have quite an importance in social history.

Facebook (3, Insightful)

programmerar (915654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833699)

Waiting for Facebook to auto enroll them, give them a timeline and a social graph.

It's thee olde Facebook (1)

TheTruthIs (2499862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833709)

I wonder if it will allow to poke some prussian chicks.

Re:It's thee olde Facebook (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833799)

Not being sure what you were implying, I image searched for "prussian chicks".
Now you and I may have different tastes, and I can't say that the uniforms were all that bad, but the moustaches and rifles are kind of off-putting in my opinion.

Re:It's thee olde Facebook (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834081)

Perhaps you'll change your mind after a long Prussian winter.

Maybe this will determine who the girl was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833723)

in Manet's Déjeuner sur l'herbe [all-art.org] (1863), and what transpired with the two well-dressed gents afterwards.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834017)

That's just the Goatse of it's day.

Obama ate a dog. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833777)

Obama ate a dog.

who-knew-who (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833821)

Shouldn't that be who-knew-whom? Just pointing out the important stuff that matters.

Re:who-knew-who (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39838119)

Shouldn't that be who-knew-whom? Just pointing out the important stuff that matters.

To nerds who natter.

Dead people want privacy too... (1)

crdotson (224356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833845)

I'm dead and I want privacy too, you insensitive clod!

Re:Dead people want privacy too... (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39836323)

    There's a real case there. Imagine a vampire, who has changed his identity every 20 to 30 years for centuries. He'd fake his own death, and move on with enough riches to start over.

    Now they'll have a lineage of the names he used, where he lived, and quite likely be able to identify trends in his feeding patterns. The truth will be known, and there will be nowhere for him to hide. The lineage of his crimes will haunt him forever.

    I guess the important part of that is, if vampires were real. Imagine being the walking dead, and trying to get a drivers license, passport, or other photo ID. It'd be damned near impossible.

    You know, that'd probably make a pretty good TV show. They could pair him with a ghost and werewolf. They could show him trying to live life in a big city, like London or Boston, for example. Nah, that'd never work. :)

ask an Artist (1)

ozduo (2043408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833851)

a good portrait is more about capturing a persons persona than their likeness. A portrait that sells is all about gilding the lilly.

Putting more science into history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833977)

This sounds suspiciously like what has happened to academic economics.

An attempt to make the subject more "scientific" resulted in in excessive reliance on mathematical models, and a focus on the questions that fitted neatly into these models rather than the questions that are most significant for the real world.

Creating a graph of who-knows-who is an interesting side issue, but it is of little significance in the big picture.

Relatives (1)

Teunis (678244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834049)

I'm sure to have relatives amongst that lot - and given how much of my life has been affected by stuff my ancestors did, I'm pretty confident that this will help.

And I have an archive of photos.

Many of our ancestors did amazing things. Sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible - but definitely amazing.

a sham (2)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834127)

That kind of project is a sham. Face recognition software works by precise geometric measurements and by identifying unique and precise skin patterns. Neither of those are present in paintings. Paintings vary a lot more and still require human abilities to interpret facial characteristics.

Re:a sham (1)

WillHirsch (2511496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39836067)

Would you mind expanding on what humans use for face recognition that isn't yet present in software algorithms? I'm sure you know what you're talking about but it seems counterintuitive to me when I perceive most painted portraits to reproduce faces just as faithfully as a candid, poorly-lit Facebook photo, the latter of which is easily recognised by software.

Re:a sham (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#39836177)

Face recognition algorithms (at least the ones that work well enough for practical use) recognize faces based on exact shape and appearance. Humans often use characteristics and qualitative deviations from "normal" faces. That's why humans have no problems recognizing caricatures like these: http://tinyurl.com/d8pq9f6 [tinyurl.com] Computers can't do that yet. Paintings tend to be more like caricatures, not photos.

And face recognition in Facebook usually only has a few dozen people to choose from, with a high probability that the same faces occur again. In art, you have tens of thousands of faces and a low probability that any one occurs multiple times.

Re:a sham (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837219)

Paintings tend to be more like caricatures, not photos

Yes you are right, I could barely tell the difference between those cartoons and the Mona Lisa, or any other portrait.

Re:a sham (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39837893)

You know, I gave you a brief explanation of what the difference is. If you want to know more, get off your lazy a** and read the reviews on this stuff instead of continuing to display your ignorance.

Re:a sham (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837233)

And face recognition in Facebook usually only has a few dozen people to choose from, with a high probability that the same faces occur again. In art, you have tens of thousands of faces and a low probability that any one occurs multiple times.

Are you trying to say that there are only a few dozen users on facebook? My picasa album has close to 200 people I've identified, and several thousand other people that I haven't bothered to give names to.
It seems to me that the real issue is when there is only one or two paintings of one person. But it still seems like a fascinating research topic.

Re:a sham (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837205)

That kind of project is a sham. Face recognition software works by precise geometric measurements and by identifying unique and precise skin patterns. Neither of those are present in paintings. Paintings vary a lot more and still require human abilities to interpret facial characteristics.

That must explain why picasa keeps recognizing artwork and sculptures in my pictures.

Re:a sham (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837823)

You're confusing face detection and face recognition.

Re:a sham (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843381)

Picasa does a pretty good job with grouping similar faces together as well. It is perfect, but I assume a project like this would have some better algorithms.

Re:a sham (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852603)

Why would you assume that "a project like this would have better algorithms"? Do you think that art historians have some storehouse of algorithms that are just unknown to Google's stable of top engineers and scientists?

If they really want to ease privacy concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834321)

Then hopefully they will make their software free/open-source

Re:If they really want to ease privacy concerns (1)

WillHirsch (2511496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39836093)

...because nothing would be better for privacy than giving anyone with a computer a robust means to connect a stranger to any identity they posted publicly online with a photo ever.

System may not recognize the subject.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834369)

...but it may actually identify the artist. It is a well-known phenomenon that portraits often have facial characteristics more closely associated to the *artists* face, not the subject.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/sep/07/art.heritage

It would be art if it was in black & white (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39836517)

I wonder if the technique can be applied to, ummm, other bodily parts?

Oh no...the truth finally revealed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39837001)

It was me who sat for Dora Maar Au Chat.

This research .. (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837473)

This research is really IN YOUR FACE!

Terribly sorry. Have a nice day!

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