On Monday’s Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston, Facebook unveiled an experimental algorithm that can identify you without seeing your face. Normally, Facebook uses facial recognition technology to suggest who’s who in a photo — but that’s changing.
Thanks to the new algorithm, the social network can now recognize you based upon your body, hair, and clothing. At the conference, Facebook explained how the technology can recognize Mark Zuckerberg because of his wardrobe.
“There are a lot of cues we use. People have characteristic aspects, even if you look at them from the back. For example, you can recognize Mark Zuckerberg very easily, because he always wears a gray T-shirt.” Said Yann LeCun, the head of Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab.
And the artificial intelligence algorithm is scarily accurate. In one test, nearly 40,000 Flickr photos were scanned and people were identified successfully 86 percent of the time, New Scientist reports. The photos were run through a neural network, a system which attempts to compute more like the human brain.
The technology raises more questions about our privacy on the web. Even if we were trying to hide our faces in a photo, Facebook could still potentially identify us. So, if you're trying to conceal your face in a photo, beware, because that might not be enough to hide you from Facebook.
However, LeCun thinks the technology could protect privacy by alerting you when photos of yourself surface on the Internet. How exactly this would work wasn't explained, but it's clear that Facebook is trying to calm down concerns about this amazing -- but creepy -- technology.
But what do you think? A leap forward for artificial intelligence, or a step backward for privacy?