[MATCH] Your Face Predicts Your Behavior?
An Israeli startup called Faception got my attention recently with some pretty bold claims. The company claims that its software product can take one look at a person’s face and determine, with a high degree of accuracy, whether he is a terrorist, pedophile, white-collar criminal, extrovert, genius, or another of 15 “classifiers” the software is designed to recognize at first sight. What red flags might YOUR face trigger...?
The State of Facial Recognition Tech
Have you ever encountered another person and felt a "bad vibe" after locking eyes for a second or two? Human intuition is influenced by our own experiences, assumptions and biases, and it's not likely to be a reliable split-second indicator of good or evil lurking behind a person's eyes. But a new company that combines computer vision and machine learning technology claims they can get it right 80% of the time.
“We understand the human much better than other humans understand each other,” said Faception chief executive Shai Gilboa in an interview with the Washington Post. “Our personality is determined by our DNA and reflected in our face.”
Wow! It must be nice to live in a “reality” where people are easily deconstructed and predictable machines, and where “we” understand mere humans better than they understand each other. Unfortunately for me, I don’t live in such a peacefully smug place, and I don’t believe I want to.
The WashPo article reports Faception’s own claim of 80% accuracy in divining what sort of person the software is looking at. That may be good enough to satisfy U. S. jurisprudence’s “probable cause” requirement for an arrest warrant. Indeed, reports WashPo, “Faception said it’s already signed a contract with a homeland security agency to help identify terrorists.” But it’s far short of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required for convictions in this country.
Let’s compare Faception to polygraphy, better known as “lie detection testing.” Polygraphy measures several biometric parameters - respiration rate, perspiration, and so on - and attempts to predict whether a person is lying or concealing truth when questioned. Proponents of polygraphy will claim it is 90% accurate; opponents claim it’s more like 70% accurate. The truth probably lies in the middle - around 80%, same as Faception.
How Good is Your Poker Face?
Now note that U. S. courts do not accept polygraphy results as evidence in criminal trials. I wonder why they would accept Faception, or any other facial recognition system.
Faception conducted a test of its “poker expert” classifier, using participants in a professional poker tournament sponsored by one of Faception’s investors. The software looked at images of 50 players and predicted, based solely on static images of their faces and those of high-ranking players in its database, that four of the players would advance to the finals. Two of them did. I might have broken even betting on Faceptions picks, but I’d hope to do better when deciding who to arrest on terrorism charges.
Polygraphs are banned from court rooms, but many employers use them in pre-employment screenings and to ferret out thieves or other miscreants from their workforces. The specter of facial recognition software like Faception’s being used to justify hiring and firing decisions sends chills down my spine.
I can even imagine this technology being embedded in "smart glasses" that are capable of identifying potential threats as the wearer walks down the street. But Gilboa, who says he’s also Faception's “chief ethics officer,” vows that the company will never sell its technology to private sector firms, but only to law enforcement agencies.
Frankly, that’s of very little comfort to me. Now that the concept of Faception is public, someone will soon be peddling software that claims to ID undesirables on sight. Private employers and others who want to believe in such tech will believe in it, no matter how thin the evidence, and they will lobby Congress for the right to use it.
We don’t know which “homeland security agency” is Faception’s first customer. The WashPo didn’t even capitalize “homeland security” so I can’t say for sure if it’s the U. S. Department of Homeland Security. But keep your eyes peeled in all of your interactions with law enforcement. Or perhaps, wear sunglasses.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 21 Jun 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [MATCH] Your Face Predicts Your Behavior? (Posted: 21 Jun 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved