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back to article Google grabs facial-recognition 'ware firm

Google has bought a facial recognition company called pittpatt. pittpatt Pittpatt was spun off from the University of Carnegie Mellon in 2004 following 10 years of research by Dr Henry Schneiderman, now the company's president and CEO. The company specialises in "reliable facial recognition software for images and video". …

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Anonymous Coward

Reliable? I like it.

"reliable facial recognition software for images and video"

No company is going to claim to specialize in unreliable technology are they? As such surely the word reliable is somewhat pointless. However I've yet to see any reliable face recognition technology. I'd be surprised if this is any more reliable than any of the competing tech out there.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

>No company is going to claim to specialize in unreliable technology are they?

Clearly you've never worked for EDS.

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Paris Hilton

Don't Google already have this?

PIcasa seems to detect faces more-or-less OK. It is still a bit creepy though.

Paris because she can detect fac... er, just because.

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for Picasa rather than Google+?

for Picasa rather than Google+?

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They already use this tech

..in Picassa 3. It reliably found hundreds of pics of me and mine at various ages from my photo collection.

I haven't played around with the online albums with Picassa at all so far but when I uploaded these albums to Google+ it didn't seem to upload the tagging data along with the album.

When someone else manually tagged a face in one of my photos though, that tag was posted around the circles the album was shared with.

This doesn't sound too bad but the owner of the face wasn't asked permission.

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Picasa v. G+ tags

Face tags from Picasa are ignored in G+. Tags from G+ are visible in Picasa but attribute the picture to "someone else" (first entry in your contacts list or somesuch). Presumably a bug that may be eventually fixed.

"the owner of the face wasn't asked permission" -- actually, he was, in a sense. By default, your face can be tagged by anybody from your circles without asking your permission. You can change settings and then tagging by anybody will be possible only after your approval.

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Anonymous Coward

I suspect that is misrepresentation

What worries me is that on both Facebook and Google you are *TOLD* that the tags have gone, but have they really? Given their apparent deepening connections with intelligence services I can imagine they follow the LinkedIn model of *cough* privacy: they still generate the data, you just no longer see it (try unsetting the filters in LinkedIn and see just what sot of trivia is broadcast by anyone in your network - the same goes for every move YOU make).

Masking makes more sense from the intelligence angle. It's also being rather creative with the truth, which feels more natural coming from companies that make their living with generating data - I don't trust sudden rollovers pandering for privacy when their entire business model is based on violating it..

So, back to basics - keep your personal data close and educate your friends. As any journalist can tell you (well, those that haven't been locked up yet for voice mail breaches), they tend to be your privacy leaks.. That goes for online too - there are still no real privacy laws for misleading your friends into giving out data about you. "Invite your friends to join Facebook" is the first gentle step to goad you into giving details: their email address. Just don't.

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So this is news?

Google has had face recognition in Picasa for several years now. It works reasonably well, too.

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Mushroom

Screw that

I don't use my real name on the net, and I try my best to keep my fizzog off it too (unless hidden by a hat or something). I've got nothing to hide, I just don't want some random freak on the street recognising me from something (or my employer finding out what I get up to when not on their time).

As much as I like the Internet, the uses (and potential abuses of it) are slowly shifting the cost/benefit. All it takes is one person to post a picture of you, tag you and blammo; you're privacy is gone. If that doesn't worry you, then you are brain-dead.

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Unhappy

One issue....

...it doesn't stop your "friends" tagging you. This is the worst bit.

Of course you can join and then block, but that defies the point a bit though doesn't it.

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Happy

Stock-piling the tinfoil are we?

Ease up a little on the paranoia there, caution yes, but ease up a little before you end up being locked up!

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Facepalm

Fine

...except someone you know could always come along and take a photo of you, then tag you without you even needing to be *on* the internet.

I think that's what makes this so creepy. Alas the "shut your eyes and the problem will go away" solution doesn't really work.

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Big Brother

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Well I agree, in that if you put a photo on the internet where you friends are likely to tag you in, your privacy is in their hands. If you don't put your name / photo online then you're pretty much safe, right?

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Bronze badge

Breaking news

Google has just changed it's name to skynet .

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At the same time the folks in cheyenne mountain have gone off line .

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EOL

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Outside the box

Let's say you wanted to roll out a NFC payment system, and you wanted to reassure both users and vendors that the person paying was not using stolen cellphone ... maybe a facial recognition system that popped up the user's name when he was paying would help?

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It might... if it were reliable

In real life, identifying physical faces via software has not been found very effective - unless of course technology made huge leaps forward in the past 6 months and no-one told us.

However, this has nothing to do with the discussion. Please refer to the numerous intelligent and insightful blog posts world wide re the banning of pseudonyms on Google+ for some damn good reasons why a large number of people do not wish to be publicly identified on Internet.

The petition for Google+ anonymity is here, btw http://www.change.org/petitions/google-inc-google-needs-to-allow-pseudonyms-on-services-like-google-for-anonymity

Of course, this is even before some bright spark starts 'shopping other people's photos...

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Anonymous Coward

Only one way to fight this

If you have friends who post pictures of you on the Net (or you're in the public eye) you have only one choice of fighting it: pollute the information. Get you face tagged with as many different names as you can manage.

It doesn't stop the publication (which would be my first attempt at preserving my privacy) but it will make a mess of the root data.

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Meh

I'll believe it when

I'll believe it when I see a working decompiler.

When considered purely in terms of abstract mathematics, decompilation -- taking a binary executable and producing some source code which would compile to the same binary -- is pretty much isomorphic with face recognition.

If Church and Turing are correct, you don't even have to decompile to the same language as originally used. Imagine two programmers on opposite sides of the world being able to collaborate on a project, without even a programming language in common!

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