Here’s some face recognition fun.  There’s a site called riya.com that I’ve been playing with.  Basically, you upload photos to the site a bit like Flickr except the site runs face recognition software: it picks faces out of the photos: you label them (eg, Dad).  Then you can upload more photos and search for "Dad": the software performs face recognition on the photos you’ve uploaded.  It didn’t work perfectly, but I thought the fact that it worked at all was quite interesting.

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Face recognition, especially at a distance, hasn’t worked terribly well historically.  Certainly the Hollywood-SciFi version is a long way off.  In practical deployments, trying to match faces in a population hasn’t worked at all.  A system installed a Keflavik airport in Iceland — not primarily aimed at terrorists but at drug dealers, missing children and so on — never matched a single wanted person.  I remember a few years ago there was a much-discussed case in Florida, where the police turned off a similar system after just two months because it produced so many false identifications.  As in the case of CCTV in town centres, face-scanning cameras might make us feel safer, but they wouldn’t necessarily make us safer.
If anyone has any experience with 1:n face recognition systems that have had more success, perhaps you could share them with us.

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