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Computers Outperform Humans at Recognizing Faces

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the come-a-long-way dept.

Technology 183

seven of five writes "According to the recent Face Recognition Grand Challenge, The match up of face-recognition algorithms showed that machine recognition of human individuals has improved tenfold since 2002 and a hundredfold since 1995. 'Among other advantages, 3-D facial recognition identifies individuals by exploiting distinctive features of a human face's surface--for instance, the curves of the eye sockets, nose, and chin, which are where tissue and bone are most apparent and which don't change over time. Furthermore, Phillips says, "changes in illumination have adversely affected face-recognition performance from still images. But the shape of a face isn't affected by changes in illumination." Hence, 3-D face recognition might even be used in near-dark conditions.'"

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183 comments

Facial Patterns? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19329421)

Facial Patterns

fattern pacials

im on topic you gay /.ers.

i troll 4 profit, nuggas

Computers Outperform Humans at recognizing feces (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19329593)

That would not be surprising though.

ORLY? (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329431)

Who's this then :-)

Re:ORLY? (2, Funny)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330555)

Guy Smiley?

Re:ORLY? (2, Funny)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331137)

I don't know who it is, but I recognized the face. Unfortunately placing a name with the face is a different skill that is not part of my programming.

Re:ORLY? (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331321)

No news here. I calculator could beat me in recognizing faces. What we all really need is something that comes up with names too.

in other news (2, Funny)

Mr.Dippy (613292) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329463)

computers outperform humans on math equations

Re:in other news (4, Insightful)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330993)

Right.

Recognition tasks are almost all inductive in nature, where performance on math is deductive. Human induction pretty well spanks machine induction at most of the things we take for granted - like recognizing and decoding faces, voices, speech, the sound of your walk, etc., etc., etc. The thing computers do least well is infer what bits of information are most important. We seem to excel at that.

Despite what the findings say, I stand by the faces thing. It sounds like the recognition algorithms got high-resolution 3D scans of human faces as input. Wake me when they can do as well as a human with low-resolution 2D scans.

That being said, it's great to see progress in this area. I can't wait until someone has to lop off my head and carry it with them in a plastic bag in order to break into my workplace. It's more grisly than taking a thumb, but much less likely to happen... I think...

Re:in other news (2, Insightful)

McFadden (809368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331345)

I concur. Computers can outperform people under experimental conditions where the data provided to the computer is exactly what is required to perform the job at hand. Show me a computer that can recognize a person from a brief glimpse of the the back of their head, when they're walking away, on the other side of the street, and I'll agree they've got us licked on this one.

Great, now commercialize it.. (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329477)

It's really annoying how much of this research never gets turned into product.. or, worse yet, it gets embedded in some proprietary piece of shit hardware instead of being released as a reusable component. I'd love to add some good facial recognition to my pet robot, but I'm not buying your watt sucking camera.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19329525)

I'm constantly annoyed at how people don't give me stuff I want for free, too.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329977)

huh? I said commercialize.. that means, "give me something I can buy" not "give me something for free". wtf?

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330975)

10,000USD for a basic contract, per unit costs vary depending on your production amount, starting at 1000 USD and lowering as your produce more.

We'll then provide some crap documentation and a perverted API. Little or no source will be provided and then we'll make you sign about 10 NDAs, for your protection of course. Binary libraries only run on Windows CE v3.0.

OK, how's that?

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

RajivSLK (398494) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330141)

Dude, he said "commercialize it"..... not give it away for free..... ugh..

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (4, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329791)

It is being turned into product. Has you flown into the US from overseas recently? They have (and use) fingerprint scanners, cameras and facial recognition software running in US Customs. Sure right now only people with foreign passport have to scan in and back out when they go through customs, but the cameras are right in your face in the US passport lines as well. This may be very new, I first saw them this last Monday in JFK. But apparently this has been going on for awhile.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329875)

Gone through them about 5 times. They now have a complete set of my fingerprints. As for facial recognition, really? I just figured those photos were stored on file to show that the customs officer was doing his job.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (4, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330095)

Yeah facial recognition software has been a US Customs thing for a few years now.

"As U.S. airports begin installing face-recognition systems to thwart terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, civil rights activists are rushing to decry the technology as ineffective and invasive."
http://news.com.com/2100-1023-275313.html [com.com]

"In the USA Patriot Act, the National Institute of Standards (NIST) is mandated to measure the accuracy of biometric technologies. In accordance with this legislation, NIST, in cooperation with other Government agencies, conducted the Face Recognition Vendor Test 2002. FRVT 2002 Sponsors and Supporters are: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Institute of Justice, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Transportation Security Administration, ONDCP Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center, United States Customs Service, Department of Energy, Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Secret Service, Technical Support Working Group, Australian Customs, Canadian Passport Office, United Kingdom Biometric Working Group. "
http://www.frvt.org/FRVT2002/default.htm [frvt.org]

I included the long list of agencies because under Homeland Security they will undoubtably share databases. If you have been scanned, everyone has your facial recognition file and fingerprints. I tried to stand out of the camera view, but there was no good way to aviod walking past it. The customs guy did alot of typing when I came in, probably as it was my first time in front of a facial recognition camera. My girlfriend was practically waved through, but she had been though customs just a year ago, as so probably already has a file.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330135)

heh, well there ya go.

Thanks for the info.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (2, Interesting)

Old Benjamin (1068464) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330777)

...Invasive. The privacy people are almost never right. This time, they've never been wronger. I don't quite subscribe to the definition of invasive as a picture.

Will somebody please explain to me why every time some new way to do anything that would involve identifying people, it's an invasion of privacy? I mean honestly, why are you so afraid? What crime did you commit now?

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330285)

This technology will be embedded into high end adjustable firmness matresses and the patent owner will be too lazy to do the paperwork for any kind of licensing.

The Patent System demands it!

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (2, Interesting)

risk one (1013529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330399)

Trust me, this will become product. Walking through downtown London, you will get recognized. They already have your passport photo.

I hope I've been able to put your mind at ease.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330531)

Casinos. Gamble? Then you're being watched by the latest toys in surveillance. This tech was adopted a long time ago and is now being upgraded as we speak. There's also lots of cameras in the UK and other countries putting this to good use.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

Mspangler (770054) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330989)

Better yet, can it recognize a ripe apple? Or a strawberry? When it can, then the agricultural robots can go into production. The force feedback "fingertips" already exist.

At the right price, I might even buy my own heavily armored blackberry picker. I'd certainly like to rent one. Change the software and maybe the picking attachment, and one machine could handle several crops.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331075)

Heh, the old "let's replace slave/cheap labor with robots!" idea.

Re:Great, now commercialize it.. (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331227)

Even my A$180 Nikon compact camera has a mode where it knows when it's looking at a face and uses that to decide what to focus on. It can't tell one face from another, but rudimentary face recognition is definitely finding its way into consumer products. As a matter of fact this one gets less false positives than a human would.

We need a new Technology icon (0, Offtopic)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329483)

...I mean, really. What is that board, a Cyrix MII? With 72-pin SDRAM?

Excellent news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19329489)

This will be great for targeting us humans when they rebel and takeover.

Surveillance soceity. (4, Insightful)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329499)

I wonder whether these scientists lose any sleep over how their research advances will contribute to the future of our societies.

Re:Surveillance soceity. (4, Insightful)

presarioD (771260) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329699)

I wonder whether these scientists lose any sleep over how their research advances will contribute to the future of our societies.

If scientists ever paused to think for the possibilities of potential abuse of their intellectual effort, progress as we know it would come to a grinding halt. Back to Neanderthal times...

It relies on the ordinary people to safeguard their societies from degenerating but that is an entire different subject (requires getting off the couch alot), and since I can already see the political-zombies approaching to offer their caned insight into the matter it's time for me to split...

Re:Surveillance soceity. (3, Insightful)

Thrip (994947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330839)

I think you're letting researchers off the hook too easy. There are a million things to research, yet many people choose to work on projects that have dubious implications for society. I mean, sure, there's a lot of gray area between searching for a cancer cure and weaponizing anthrax, but I see no reason to excuse scientists from at least asking themselves where their work falls on that spectrum, and whether what they're doing is likely to improve or damage our world.

Back to Neanderthal times...
I'm afraid moving forward to Neanderthal times isn't any better. If we have slow down to go in the right direction, so be it.

Re:Surveillance soceity. (1)

rujholla (823296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331041)

There are a million things to research, yet many people choose to work on projects that have dubious implications for society.

I don't think that facial recognition is something must necessarily have a dubious impact on society. AFAIK this has long been one of the sought after abilities for robotic applications. That it has the drawback of possibly -- ok who am I kidding here certainly -- being used to draw us further into a surveilance society is not the fault of the researchers.

Maybe when you get down to your weaponizing anthrax end of the spectrum it becomes easier to say this is wrong, but ... I'll bet that many if not most of the researchers that did that probably believed strongly in the cause they were doing it for.

Re:Surveillance soceity. (0)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329725)

I assume that the loss of anonymity is probably inevitable. It is arguable that people behave more responsibly when they assume that their family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers will hear of their behavior. I expect that most people concerned about anonymity are more concerned about information leaking to such social networks than to governmental authorities. It is not the assumption that urban populations have ever really made before: You had anonymity in the cities and large groups, but not in the villages or countryside. With modern technology we are likely to have less anonymity in developed and populated areas due to the density of tracking devices.

Certainly, I will find it most useful if my kids believe that I can track them and their behavior while they are going through their teenage years. It might dissuade them from some of the more outrageous stunts. After all, I don't want them trying to repeat, let alone exceed, some of the damm fool things I did.

Re:Surveillance soceity. (4, Insightful)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330077)

Every technology has downsides. This technology clearly has pretty serious upsides. Do you wonder whether the inventors of the integrated circuit lost sleep over the contributions of their work to the surveillance society?

Re:Surveillance soceity. (2, Insightful)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330101)

If something is possible it will be done by someone.

Re:Surveillance soceity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19331095)

If something is possible it will be done by someone.
So anything you can possibly do is justified, because someone else would have done it anyway.

Re:Surveillance soceity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19331181)

As one of the researchers heavily involved in this field, I can say I don't. Several of the September 11th highjackers were already on watch lists, we knew they shouldn't be on planes, but they were using false identities. Working face recognition may have been able to prevent that tragedy as well as the wars that have resulted.

It's all too easy to blame science and research for advancement and the evils that can result, but it's not the knowledge that is either good or bad, but how we use it. This research has the ability to catch criminals and prevent crime. Genetics can be used to cure disease or create bioweapons. Whether or not we use technology for the benefit of mankind is not a product of the research/science itself but rather how we as a society choose to use that knowledge, don't blame those researching it.

security possibilities (2, Interesting)

benburned (1091769) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329529)

once the technology becomes more refined, they could put a camera connected to a computer(stored with all the mugshots in the nation) near a bank or other commonly visited area be able to catch tons of criminals

Re:security possibilities (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329807)

I don't think any of these technologies are up to that level yet, but it's a nice idea.

And yes, the exact same technology could be used to horrific effect by a police state.

Re:security possibilities (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330237)

You said it was a nice idea, but then called a police state "horrific". Make up your mind. Sure it would be nice to be able to easily track violent criminals, but what about potentialy violent criminals like terrorists, or anarchists, or people who right Un-American things on the internet? Why would you say that a police state would be "horrific" if you haven't done anything wrong? You should just confess now, we want to help you.

Re:security possibilities (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330575)

Your confusion about the term "police state" is a clear indicator of your failure to study history.

Re:security possibilities (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331339)

what about . . . people who right Un-American things on the internet?

Yeah, I can see how police states would want to persecute people who correct anti-American propaganda. All the more reason to overthrow their governments and hang their despotic leaders.

Re:security possibilities (3, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329841)

Screw the criminals. Thinks about how many law abiding citizens you'll be able to track. :D

Face the Consequences (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329551)

When a human makes a mistake recognizing a face, they suffer the results. If that's identifying a criminal, they can be cross-examined, or even sued or jailed, depending on what they said that face did.

When computers mis-ID a face, do we cross-examine and maybe punish its programmers?

Re:Face the Consequences (2, Insightful)

Hex4def6 (538820) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329931)

Don't be silly.

If this were to be used for criminal identification, I'm sure that when they get a "hit" for a wanted suspect, that they're going to manually sift through the video, in order to figure out direction of travel etc.

These things aren't error proof, and never will be. A jury would also probably be more sawyed by seeing part of the footage than just having a prosecutor say "the computer said it was him."

If I were an (innocent) suspect, I'd much rather that I was tagged by a computer, since the video evidence would be available to criticize, than to be tagged by a witness to a crime, who are notorious for misidentifying people.

So in regards to your hypothetical question, no. At best this would be like a google search for faces, where an investigator would then further analyze the hits.

Re:Face the Consequences (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330369)

What makes you so sure it will be used so responsibly? Our jails have thousands of people who didn't commit the crimes that sent them there. Hundreds of innocent people have been freed by DNA evidence after years of jail, while prosecutors still resist the evidence. And that's the results of using technology and techniques with hundreds of years of being challenged.

Why do you give our justice system, which has recently incorporated even more egregious abuses (like discarding Habeas Corpus), the benefit of the "doubt"?

Re:Face the Consequences (2, Interesting)

risk one (1013529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330465)

Programmer: We've finished your face recognition system. We estimate its error to be about 0.5 percent.
Politician: Can the technobabble, nerd. Roll it out. We need to catch us some t'rists.
Leftist Media: "Middle-Eastern man unfairly jailed, tortured"
Politician: Sue the programmers! Damn geeks. Technology is evil!

Re:Face the Consequences (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330525)

Which leftist media would that be? You mean the one that's ignoring all the Mideastern men jailed, tortured and killed in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the CIA's global network of secret torture prisons, without even face recognition?

The rest you got right. Except the part where the media doesn't report the programmer's warning or the politician ignoring it.

No worries... (5, Funny)

DanFM (1083351) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329561)

My tinfoil hat has a visor.

Had to say it... (2, Insightful)

ectotherm (842918) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329565)

I, for one, welcome our face-recognizing overlords...

Re:Had to say it... (1)

robably (1044462) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329805)

I, for one, welcome our face-recognizing overlords...
That should read:

I, for one, welcome
HELLO ECTOTHERM.
our face-recog... um. Hello.

Yes but (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19329577)

humans still outperform computers at giving facials

theres no cake like a buck cake

Re:Yes but (2, Funny)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329975)

And I'm pretty sure the computer won't be able to recognize the face after the facial.

My Plugin (4, Funny)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329623)

if(hot_gurl) {
      RingBell();
    }

A little embarrassed to admit this (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329659)

improved tenfold since 2002 and a hundredfold since 1995
Because of the internet explosion since 1995, I, too, recognize facials at least a hundred times better. Or at least see them a hundred times more.

Ageing? (2, Interesting)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329741)

How good are computers at recognizing a face after ten or twenty years? I doubt the algorithms can recognize, say, a teenager based on photos taken prior to puberty. Also, can they maintain accuracy even if somebody has a new scar or puts on dark sunglasses? How much of a face does it take to make a match?

it's in the summary FFS (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329921)

"for instance, the curves of the eye sockets, nose, and chin, which are where tissue and bone are most apparent and which don't change over time."

Geez.

Re:it's in the summary FFS (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330345)

Note specifically that I mentioned puberty. Faces do change shape significantly during puberty. This kind of technology will be used heavily in child abduction cases, where these issues really make a difference.

Re:it's in the summary FFS (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330751)

...the curves of the eye sockets

The movie 'Hostel' demonstrated that this can be defeated with a blow torch.

Re:it's in the summary FFS (1)

SpecTheIntro (951219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331019)

The movie 'Hostel' demonstrated that this can be defeated with a blow torch.

Oh intertron, you are a wealth of practical information. :D

Re:Ageing? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329991)

They specifically said it uses the visible curvature of the bone as the primary recognition factor. Thinks like scars, glasses, will have a limited effect to disguise.

As for puberty, sure the curvature will change while the skull is still forming, but even by early teens things are mostly set.

Really thick facial hair that totally obscures the outline of your head plus oversize glasses that obscure your eye sockets and brow ridges would defeat it, but that hairy bastard with glam-rock shades is going to stick out in a crowd like a sore thumb anyway. :)

Re:Ageing? (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330809)

Would a headscarf confuse it then?

-uso.
(I always wear them, mind you)

Re:Ageing? (2, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331003)

Really depends what you mean by "headscarf". Some would. Some wouldn't.

Searching google images shows the diversity of things called 'headscarf'. The word covers garments ranging from little more than a headband to the complete head covering a women in Taliban controlled afghanistan would wear.

Re:Ageing? (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331157)

I refer to a rectangular scarf, wrapped around the top and back of my head (and covering part of the side of my face) and tied in a shoe bow around my chin.

-uso.

Re:Ageing? (5, Funny)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330035)

How good are computers at recognizing a face after ten or twenty years?

Hopefully better than I am, otherwise they better be damn good at making generic bullshit small talk at family parties while sweating profusely and fishing for hints without letting on they have absolutely no idea who it is that just ambused them at the buffet table.

Actually, the opposite situation is just as bad. I have enough of a problem with my 'aunt's old room-mate' or equivilant telling me they "remeber me when I was just 'this' big" (given the amount of random old women that at some point 'changed my diaper' I have begun to wonder if my parents rented me out as a training aid), I do not need the computer hardware in my life pulling the same act!

Either way.... this will end badly.

I for one... (1)

theTrueMikeBrown (1109161) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329801)

I for one have nothing insightful, or witty to say to this. I would, however have a camera mounted above my door, and door bell controller that I programmed myself if ( person == thatAnnoyingKidWhoRingsOurDoorbellAndRuns ) { doorbell.shutOff(); }

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19330559)

You forgot

if ( person == thatAnnoyingKidWhoThrowsMudAtCamera ) { camera.shield(); }

Hmmm... (1)

killermookie (708026) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329843)


If my friend, who has no facial hair, puts on a fake mustache, I can still tell that it's my friend.

Will an algorithm be able to distinguish fake markings?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329959)

"for instance, the curves of the eye sockets, nose, and chin, which are where tissue and bone are most apparent and which don't change over time."

Again, it's IN THE SUMMARY.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330041)

Or even if it is your own mustache that you grow?

And cheap plastic surgery application will skyrocket; not with the goal to become 'prettier'.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331079)

If my friend, who has no facial hair, puts on a fake mustache, I can still tell that it's my friend.

In the BBC documentary series "The Face" the former python John Cleese put on a dress, hat and sunglasses and walked down the street with a silly walk. Everyone recognised him but none of the face recognition algorithms in use at the time could. The sunglasses removing information about the eyes baffled the best of the things available after he put those on. Humans could still identify him with ease so there are other ways we identify faces. This was a few years ago so some other techniques may have been developed so long as enough money was spend on reseach and not selling silicon snake oil (a few airports have bought expensive pieces of garbage that pretend to match faces).

Is anyone (1)

kennylogins (1092227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329855)

researching countermeasures for this invasive garbage?

How about a populist hacker movement that targets the surveillance apparatus rather than crashing my computer?

Re:Is anyone (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330229)

Surely all you have to do if you don't want to be recognised is put some putty on your chin and around the top of your cheekbones.

ORLY? (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329915)

for instance, the curves of the eye sockets, nose, and chin, which are where tissue and bone are most apparent and which don't change over time.


so, apparently, plastic surgery doesn't exist.

Re:ORLY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19330475)

I know it is a hot thing to do lately, but are we far enough along that plastic surgery is considered something that will happen over time?

Re:ORLY? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330907)

unless they're messing with the facial bone structure, cosmetic procdures shouldn't have any effect on this.

I'm lucky (3, Interesting)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329943)

It's a question of time 'till there 's a law that forbids to wear anything that partially covers your face in certain public areas.

I think I have about ten years 'till computers are able to interpret my front-head as a 'face' so I'm safe.

Since you asked, you can have it... (3, Informative)

MedicinalMan (1061338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330273)

After LA the incident in May where protesters and cameramen kept running into police batons and shooting themselves with stolen police guns, the LAPD wants the city council to ban masks and goggles [laweekly.com] from public demonstrations. A law somewhere in Europe against masks was recently applied to burkas (no source, but google can backup any claim).

Not that impressive (3, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#19329949)

Human face recognition is run by a several hardwired circuits operating in parallel (ie. fast, with little control) with the results put together after by some heuristics -- a good enough guess. What humans need to get from facial recognition, and what their ancestors required and so developed through evolution, is nowhere near the same thing facial recognition software is after. Humans need to recognize quickly that there is a face and what information it's displaying far more than they need to differentiate one from another. Facial recognition software does just the opposite. Also, the software does the complete job every time. Humans only process as much as they need to in any given instance.

If "better" is based on the standards of humans (fastest good enough guess) rather than machines (as correct as possible, complete & in depth), humans win.

Re:Not that impressive (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330131)

Humans also tend to optimize to the extreme. I was watching a show a while back where they did an experiment on some people where they'd start asking the person a question for some poll or other then have a couple of guys carrying a big wood thing and would switch out the interviewer for another person. After the switch the new person would carry on interviewing the subject as if nothing had happened and no one noticed the switch. It would seem that human recognition software just goes $GUY for people it doesn't expect to meet again. I'd expect computer software to try to index every face it sees and it would not be taken in by such a switch.

In related news... (2, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330009)

Re:In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19330597)

Nice link, thanks. One thing that's neat about their google image link is that you can see pictures of computer-generated faces in the results, too.

o_O (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330043)

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.....they will find you and......recognise you.....the robot apocalypse is coming! the robot apocalypse is coming!

I'm not paranoid.....who said that?

Re:o_O (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19330539)

No one will survive THE..... Robot Holocaust.

Quite impressive.. (4, Interesting)

denoir (960304) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330047)

This is actually a great milestone as we humans are really excellent at face recognition. In fact, we are so good at it that we produce tons of false positives and recognize faces where there are none (clouds, toasts etc).

A few years back (well, nearly a decade actually), I did my master's thesis in a lab that among other things did work on face recognition. The experts there assured me that perhaps in 50 years or so computers might be able to approach human face recognition capabilities. Apparently the development was far quicker than they could have imagined.

An interesting technical point is that in fact the algorithms haven't changed a lot since then - it's still mainly various adaptive systems such as neural networks [wikipedia.org] and support vector machines [wikipedia.org] . The really big breakthrough is in the data collection - in the sensors and scanners. What they couldn't imagine a decade ago was the type of accurate automatic 3d face modeling and measurements that can be done today. It's also how certain computing methods that were deemed unsuitable a few years ago are coming back big time (neural nets for instance). I guess the time wasn't ready for them the last time due to computing power and memory limitations (and of course sensors as in this case).

Re:Quite impressive.. (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330377)

This computer is comparing faces that are given to it, to see who they belong to. This is a lot harder than finding a face in a random pic, or in the street. The job of measuring the features of a face that is presented to it, then comparing it to a database, is a lot lot easier than finding a face in the midst of a big jumble of non-face, and then recognising it. When a computer can do that, I will be really impressed.

Re:Quite impressive.. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330697)

"This is actually a great milestone as we humans are really excellent at face recognition. In fact, we are so good at it that we produce tons of false positives and recognize faces where there are none (clouds, toasts etc)."

Yeah, I have so much trouble recognizing faces that these technology advances will really simplify my life. <sarcasm> No, these technologies will help people who want to recognize every face seen all day long for practically zero cost. Hmmm, who could these people be? "Great milestone", hmmm.

Betting on technology (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330807)

A few years back (well, nearly a decade actually), I did my master's thesis in a lab that among other things did work on face recognition. The experts there assured me that perhaps in 50 years or so computers might be able to approach human face recognition capabilities. Apparently the development was far quicker than they could have imagined.

This is very typical - it's really hard to understand the real implications of the technology singularity [wikipedia.org] when we're so used to thinking and seeing things as a linear progression. Exponential progression is just hard to grasp.

Will this exponential curve go on forever? Definitely not - there's only so many bits of information that we can process in a single unit of space limited by the bounds of a black hole. But that number, the maximum number of bits of information per unit of space, is a very, very high number. No doubt, to reach anywhere close to it, the very definition of humanity must change. And it can be argued, that it already HAS changed.

We will merge with our machines, and become a new species. How appropriate is it that at this edge of singularity, that issues such as global climate change and peak oil seem to be coming together to form a grand nexus of crisis? It seems that the post-singularity man will have leverage the technology available to him in a very cohesive way, or face extinction.

What this means for me and my 6 children, I can only guess. But I sure am trying.

Condense Facts from the Vapors of Nuance (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330059)

Facial recognition software? Of course it's better than people, in terms of physical metrics. Computers beat people at chess and go, why wouldn't they beat us at the game of recognizing people?

But people have other qualities which will prove more resistant to computer analysis.

As facial recognition software evolves, people will evolve defensive strategies (poker face? false-emotion face? alien-face?).

Another thought, I'm reminded of a phrase from Snowcrash -- "condense facts from the vapors of nuance".

Context: facial expression as avatar interface.

Can software condense facts from the vapors of nuance? Or do the vapors of nuance pose some kind of Turing test?

-kgj

Re:Condense Facts from the Vapors of Nuance (1)

dokebi (624663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330449)

Computers beat people at chess and go

Not go [wikipedia.org] .

Automating Go (3, Interesting)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331029)

Go is not yet as well-automated as chess, but it appears that go-playing software is rapidly advancing:

"Two Hungarian scientists have now come up with an algorithm that helps computers pick the right move in Go, played by millions around the world, in which players must capture spaces by placing black and white marbles on a board in turn.

"On a nine by nine board we are not far from reaching the level of a professional Go player," said Levente Kocsis at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences' computing lab SZTAKI.

The 19 by 19 board which top players use is still hard for a machine, but the new method is promising because it makes better use of the growing power of computers than earlier Go software."

Link [reuters.com]

See also:

http://zaphod.aml.sztaki.hu/papers/ecml06.pdf [sztaki.hu]

http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/vanderwerf03solving.ht ml [psu.edu]

http://www.primidi.com/2007/02/26.html [primidi.com]

-kgj

3D face scans? (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330063)

How long does the scanning process take?
It seems to me comparing this to human face recognition capabilities is like comparing apples to oranges. Humans recognize faces with vision (3D and 2D) and can work with huge amounts of noise.
These systems appear to require a still head in a vise, a huge amount of spatial data, are not vision based and I'm guessing are not very immune to noise.
To answer the other posts - I don't think you'll see this any time soon because it doesn't seem to be practical for most uses.

Re:3D face scans? (1)

ScottV (694828) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331169)

I've just finished building a structured light scanner and its quite quick (a few hundred milliseconds). That still means the person has to be willing and still though. Building an accurate 3D model passively and discretely of unsuspecting people is quite a bit beyond the technology I've seen.

real world example (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19330071)

if (isNigger()) {
    callPolice();
}

Child porn uses? (1)

agent (7471) | more than 6 years ago | (#19330223)

Think of the kids.

I duno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19330409)

I duno about faces, but your mom should be very good at recognizing the head of my dick.

Have you seen this boy? (1)

milatchi (694575) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330623)

Have you seen this boy? [imdb.com]

facial recognition (1)

Nyph2 (916653) | more than 7 years ago | (#19330723)

They may be able to identify a picture more accurately, but can they read a face like a human? Much of the facial recognition ability in humans is related to what the meanings behind the facial expressions are, not merely identification.

Caricatures (4, Interesting)

Philotic (957984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331109)

I'll be impressed when they can recognize caricatures as well as humans.

How did they messure this? (1)

siyavash (677724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331149)

The question is if this is really true. The thing is, say I recognized your face, it takes a LOT of time for me to klick a mouse or tell you that I recognize you eventhough in my mind it is already done. I still think the brain is faster here.

Other Race Effect (3, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19331167)

One of the academic research areas I've been involved in, is study of the so-called "Other Race Effect". There is some evidence that people have quantifiable error when asked to identify faces of people of other races than their own.

Computers won't be subject to this.
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