Saturday, December 10, 2011

Facial Recognition No Longer "Too Dangerous" For Google

Matt Steiner Google Engineer
Google Plus image
Activist Post

Only six months after former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, called facial recognition software "too dangerous to implement," Google introduces the 'Find My Face' tool for Google+ users.

This week, Google made the announcement that they were rolling out facial recognition tools in a Google Plus blog post, "It is now even easier to tag photos of yourself and your friends, thanks to a new feature we are rolling out called Find My Face, which will help your friends tag your photos if you are in their pictures, and help you tag them if they have activated Find My Face."

Back in June of this year, Schmidt acknowledged that facial recognition technology was the only technology that they've developed but hadn't implemented.

"We actually built that technology and we withheld it. As far as I know it's the only technology Google built and after looking at it we decided to stop," Schmidt stated.

Likened to the powers of super heroes, where there is great power comes great responsibility, he said there is a "very bad way as well as a very good way" to use the technology.

Then Schmidt warned,"If you imagine, for example, what a perfectly executing evil dictator would do with all this technology — complete supervision, complete tracking, and so forth — and then you imagine what the dissident in that society would do, using the very best encryption tools and so forth, unfortunately you conclude that exactly the same tools are the ones that would be used by terrorists against an open society."

For those concerned about privacy, Steiner's blog post assured "Of course, you can always approve or reject those photos where you are tagged."

CNN describes how it works as follows:
On the surface, it operates pretty much identically to Facebook's facial recognition technology, Photo Tag Suggest. Find My Face scans users' and their friends' photos for recognizable faces, and suggests nametags for the faces by matching them with users' profile photos and other tagged photos on the social network.

...Only after a Google+ user opts into Find My Face will Google construct a face model of that person, using his or her profile photo and existing manually tagged photos on the site.

Google also requires the subject of a suggested tag to approve it before it goes public if the tagger isn't in the tagee's 'circles.' Facebook allows all tags to go live before notifying the subject.
Below is Google's Marissa Mayer attempting to convince the customer not to be scared:

Please leave a comment and tell us what you think of this technology.


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Matt said...

Marissa Mayer's sound suspiciously like the old phrase:

We're from the government, we're here to help.


The government is your friend.

Anonymous said...

I'll opt out, thank you.

But I imagine it won't take very long before CCTV cameras to log everybody's faces. Next, they'll know who you are when you walk into a store -- Minority Report style.

Technology designed with police state motivations is so comforting...

Jason said...

I don't trust Marissa Meyer either, but I think its inevitable that this technology will ultimately be used in their search products and YouTube and other products and that rolling it out to GMail and Google+ is a first step. I think that Google is less interested in doing no evil than they are in making more money, so this will someday be rolled out when people are more acclimated to it. I think this is less creepy when used on your own desktop, such as through iPhoto, to help tag your own personal photos. Despite Google's size and power, I see them in a bit of a desperate position for the future and they're going to explore more and more avenues to make money that they might not have considered. Facebook is crushing them in social media to the point where there are dozens of companies listed at BuyFacebookFansReviews that do nothing other than promote Facebook pages. Microsoft is making more money on Android through patents than Google is and Google is facing lawsuits because of the big Java issue. And Apple has created a new search product in Siri that might place a powerful long-term hex on Google's search market by taking away a significant percentage of the most valuable local searches that they had. I think this is going to be the reason that Google is going to eventually look at some of these techniques and add them to their search engine because the competitiveness of the overall market is just going to be too great for them over the next few years.

Anonymous said...

"..less creepy when used on your own desktop, such as through iPhoto"

How? iPhoto + iCloud = iLeak the data to improve the hitrate of recognising my peers, friends and relatives.

No difference to FB, G+ etc.

Except that when there is a fruit company offerint a service people turn into vegetables in regards of privacy concerns, eh?

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