[MATCH] Your Face Predicts Your Behavior?

Category: Printing

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.

How good is facial recongition?

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...

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Most recent comments on "[MATCH] Your Face Predicts Your Behavior?"

(See all 35 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Richard Dengrove
21 Jun 2016

I have heard that, despite the hooplah, polygraphs are quackery, and I have no reason to believe this is not quackery. I have no idea how the lie detector's supporters got that statistic. The lie detector is winning by intimidation, pure and simple. In any case, do we even need Faception's device? Can't we just look at people and tell whether they are lying? Aren't we 100% accurate already?

Posted by:

21 Jun 2016

One way to feel how an iPhone sees more than meets the eyes it the app Cardiio. It can count your heart beat because each heart beat causes a slight blush in the face. I tried it and it is quite accurate. Scary?

Posted by:

21 Jun 2016

I see no mention of compensation for local genetic pools or cultural face clues as part of it's recognition; nor do I see it mentioned that it can spot the subtle multi-racial multi-cultural face shapes and expressions. Thus, there seem to ME to be a built-in bias for specific racial stereotypes --- and, My God!, haven't we moved a tad more towards nurture than nature? I mean, haven't we moved just a tiny TAD closer to learned behaviors than genetic determinism?

Things are often FAR more complicated than they seem. Studies now show that your behavior *MAY* be partly determined by your Grand parents diet while your parents were pregnant, or what type of environment your Grand- (and possibly Great-Grand-)parents were raised in.

I suspect it will utterly fail when confronted by todays multi-racial-ethnic-cultural pluralistic make-up of Humankind.

Posted by:

Art F
21 Jun 2016

Sounds like pure hokum to me. Where's any independent research to support the company's 80% accuracy claim?

Posted by:

Walt vdH
21 Jun 2016

Didn't an Israeli company come out with a Voice Stress Analyzer several years ago? It was supposed to detect stress when a subject lied when responding to questions. I wonder how that worked out in real life?

The Israelis certainly have powerful motivations to find some way----to find ANY way----to keep dangerous people from entering or remaining in their country. Maybe face recognition will tag some persons and they can then be followed up by being voice stress tested?

By the way, Bob, I think your abbreviation could be made more accurate if it were "WashPoop."

Posted by:

Howard L
21 Jun 2016

Even if true, 80% accuracy is nothing to boast about. It means that out of 1,000 suspects fully 200 innocent people -- 1 out of 5 -- will be falsely accused.

Of course we don't know what the actual accuracy is. 80% is Faception's own figure, but we're talking advertising English, another term for exaggeration.

The worst prospect is that police departments or airlines put Faception to use. Because it's software the program, hailed as high-tech and digital, will acquire an undeserved panache and the implementers will believe in it.

Posted by:

Brian B
21 Jun 2016

Bold claims and easily put to the test.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2016

I could probably hit 80% (50%?) just by using the Hollywood method - the bad guys have mustaches.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Sounds like today's version of phrenology. So, based on my face, I can't help being what I am. I'm guessing that they are accepting investors, and in a year or so there will be a little blurb somewhere about this company folding.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

IAAL. This is a transparent hoax. The idea that there can be a "criminal face" goes back to phrenology, and none of it has ever come even remotely close to working. Nothing has ever been legally acceptable.

Bob: Can you please send the link to Snopes? This needs to be swatted flat.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Their website gives no explanation for what they base their behavioral predictions upon. They only cite studies which found (surprise!) that certain facial features seem to be more sexually attractive...except when they aren't. Faception isn't even claiming access to some database of mug shots to match criminality to faces. That would be flawed anyway as it is would be limited in scope, contain many unrepresentative expressions, and it would also include everyone who was actually innocent (whether or not they were ever able to establish that). And does there even exist a mug shot database of extroverts or bingo players, let alone a set of personality traits that could begin to separate those people from others who have similar "genetic" qualities but who excel in very different pursuits? (Unfortunately, Facebook's facial recognition already may be trying to compile such data.)

We all know people we grew up with who went on to lead lives we never would have predicted. Some of the really "bad" kids I knew became cops, while some kids who were really "into rules" became organized criminals. There is a thin line between them, including in appearances that Faception wants to be paid for pointing to. Will we really want to stop entrusting police with our safety, perhaps firing huge numbers of them, when some algorithm classifies them as looking like the criminals they deal with? This is digital snake oil being sold to frightened people who have not stopped to do critical thinking for more than 30 seconds. You can tell the premise has been bought when someone quickly starts selecting scenarios where this will save us from evildoers or bad employees.

There are literally millions of targets for a terrorist to strike at. It has to be pointed out yet again that the only way to stop hordes of potential threats is to remove their motivation. There was no motivation to carry out suicidal slaughter in the not-so-distant past but nation states since then, including ours, have callously meddled in (and exploited) other cultures, oblivious to the ideological fanaticism this stirs up. So terrorism will continue unless we all recognize this as the ultimate cause and reconsider our attitudes to those that are different from ourselves.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

What absolute rubbish to say your personality is in your DNA. DNA can be changed by RNA which is changed by environment.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

While reading this article I, as an Italian, couldn't help but thinking to a modern incarnation of the work of scientist Cesare Lombroso who is considered as the father of criminology (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesare_Lombroso).
Many of his theories however are today commonly rejected and considered as pseudoscience.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Faception does not need to reach reliability of about 99% to become useful. It can be used as an auxiliary tool for indicate who should be submitted to further examination.

For example, it is impossible to thoroughly examine all the people that enter an airport terminal. Technologies like Faception can be used to alert security personnel that a particular face highly complies with known features of terrorists. The documents and suitcase of that person would than me examinewd more thouroughly than those of other people.

Evidently, Faception and similar technologies cannot be used in one particular country in which PROFILING is considered taboo. Even though thousands of people were murdered in that country by Muslim terrorists, the president would not even admit the existence of Muslim Terrorism. It may take another terrorist attack of the “9/11” dimensions to change this situation.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Don't forget Sherlock Holmes and his "EAR" list of shaps to ID the bad boys as well!!

Posted by:

23 Jun 2016

New Age mumbo-jumbo, not real science.

Posted by:

Al Jankowski
24 Jun 2016

Further to Howard L's statement that, "It means that out of 1,000 suspects fully 200 innocent people -- 1 out of 5 -- will be falsely accused": How many real terrorists would be given a pass by this system? Besides false positives we need to take into account false negatives.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2016

Sounds like something "BIG BROTHER" would come up with and try to justify using !!!

Posted by:

Chance Van Sicklen
28 Jun 2016

A "criminal' to one culture is a 'hero" to another. How would George Washington pan out? To the Torries of 18th century England, he must certainly have rated somewhere on the "terrorist" / "criminal" scale, but here in the USA, this description would hardly befit one of the country's "founding fathers".....right?!

Posted by:

Susan L Francois
06 Jul 2016

Is this why passport photos now have the requirement "no smiling?"

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