Face Detection | Computers Are Watching Humans!

face detection

One of the most powerful ways in learning is through the ability of vision. As it is, reading begins with sight and symbol recognition. Face Detection has become the basis for Artificial Intelligence’s ability in sight and pattern recognition of a human face by a computer.

Within our rapidly progressing world, man continues to build towards the ultimate embodiment of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In this structuring, humankind seems to be reflected as the flawed model to improve upon. Our abilities have set the basis to be worked through and enhanced in this technological advancing.

Computers have, in many ways, surpassed the average person’s capability to read people in very intricate (and intimate) ways. One of the most primary and important of these abilities, especially in reading humans, is this power of having vision.

Just as a child begins to recognize his or her parents’ faces as a part of learning and knowing, we can compare how face detection is a gateway and necessary base for enhanced learning and progression in the AI world.

In the making of an ultimate AI production (if cameras are the eyes, and wires and/or radio waves the optic nerve), face detection essentially becomes the temporal lobe of a facial recognition system of a computer. In animals, the temporal lobe is a region of the brain partly responsible for the ability to recognize faces.

Similarly, a computer’s face detection system relays the same information in the AI brain (software/hardware) to confirm that the object, is indeed, a human face. So the primary aim of face detection algorithms is to determine whether there is any face present in an image or not.

Face Detection gives a computer the autonomous ability to see and tell that we are a human!

In a Big Brother, George Orwellian dystopia kind of way, this relatively personal probing comes off a bit unnerving. But it’s up to the hands that hold the power how the information and abilities are used. (Many of which we most likely will not be informed of.)

But there are plenty of ways in which this computer power has truly enhanced our lives!
Let’s explore where this artificial vision has enhanced our own sight and focus; and also perhaps put us in a precarious, whether direct or indirect, position of an invasion of privacy.

Fun In Photography and Facebook

Modern digital cameras and smartphones use face detection for auto focus. This is quite a snazzy feature for the novice and professional photographer alike! This feature not only singles out and focuses on faces; if a specific face is tapped, it can become the desired focal point of the photo.

Advanced cameras can use a smile detection feature to take a photograph at an appropriate time. Everyone can wait while the user sets up the picture, runs to be in it, then all smile on cue! Face Detection can help in the fun of these special social situations and events!

Facebook also uses face detection in the images and can recognize them (hopefully you can too). This helps to easily tag friends and share posts to them. Next time you’re on Facebook, (like in two minutes or so/after this article), you can experiment with this if you haven’t already. But you’re on top of these things, aren’t you?

Through social media, we have seen this face detection, in square box form, utilized it, and have most likely taken part in the process (or got frustrated because that one object wasn’t a face and needs to be left out of the group dynamics!).

Precision Marketing

Face detection is becoming popular with and used by marketers. A webcam using this technology, for example, can be integrated into a television. From there it can detect any face that walks by. The system may be able to gauge the race, gender, and age-range of the targeted face.

Once this data is compiled, one or more advertisements can be played; specific towards the candidate and their demographics. This brings us back to our Orwellian dystopian darkness. This kind of marketing already takes place by our online searches. It adds quite an intimate twist that feels really personal.

In fact, it’s uncomfortably personal and too invasive for many.

People are already freaked out by ads on their computer screen reflecting their personal interests. Face detection, used within the computers mind, can set us up for an unwanted sales pitch! (And you thought avoiding those mall kiosks was an annoying inconvenience!)

Emotional Inference

Face detection can be used as part of a software implementation of emotional inference. It’s a bit eerie, but a computer can determine through the basis of face detection software, how you are feeling! Men and women alike have been looking for this ability to decipher the other sexes emotions for millennia!!

The relay of this information can be used to help people with autism understand the feelings of those around them. When submerged in social situations, this would help them become familiar with this important comprehension; allowing for better learning and adaptation.

This ability could not only help with autism and the sexes in communication, but in the ways that we interact with our technology in the future! Music apps could play appropriate music suited to our visually perceived moods. Personal development apps could even be developed to help with an individual’s progress or emotional readings.

Many people do not like to talk to strangers or admit their personal issues to others. This use of face detection and emotional inference could help those cope in a more private fashion. It could perhaps be a bridge to getting necessary professional help in many cases.

Improved Security

Face Detection is the first and essential step for effective facial recognition. This is used in many areas of security, such as a high-profile nightclub, law-enforcement/FBI databases, airports, and anywhere that involves personal safety.

A useful function in this scenario is that it detect faces in real time for surveillance and tracking of a person or an object. In high concentrated social events, this technology can be used to zero in on any face in a crowd. Once detected, facial recognition can pinpoint a person’s identity.

A person’s face has to be registered in any given security database. A nightclub may not have yours on file. But if you commit a crime there, and they have this technology in their security system, they could send their face mapping info of you to the proper authorities; who just may have you registered and cross-reference you!

Face detection is making it harder and harder for criminals to run and hide! (But no worries for you! You’re an outstanding law-abiding citizen, right?!)

Bio-metrics is another handy security measure in the next step of face detection. In a corporate entity or laboratory, an employee most likely is on file and this is utilized to grant access to work and restricted security zones. But it is not a perfect system. Any facial feature changes in the database will invalidate the matching process.

A man growing a beard could potentially cause this to happen. Even though he has access, his face may not pass the necessary recognition. Wearing glasses, even make-up, could cause an inaccurate reading.

Just like humans, machines do have their flaws. Even through enhanced abilities, it seems that machines still carry the flaws of man.

Enhanced Lip Reading

In the past, those specially trained and the hearing-impaired where really the only ones highly capable of accurately reading lips. Being able to decipher what individuals are saying in a conversation without actually hearing them can be quite useful in understanding or gathering information; especially in a loud room.

Basing software on face detection, and adding lip-reading capable programs, has given computers and AI this helpful ability. In security situations, this function would assist in the transaction of language inference, along with visual queues as well.

Another ability is for the computer to accurately decipher a verbal command by its operator. This lip-reading feature has applications that can help computers determine, not only what, but who is speaking. If you have a smartphone with face unlock, you are already a bit familiar with this on a rudimentary level.

There can be a dark side to this ability by AI to read lips! Here, the invasion of privacy becomes instantly apparent if face detection software is incorporated for this function without a person’s consent! We hope that we would not be spied upon in such a surreptitious fashion!

Technically, if the software is available, any company(or government entity) could unscrupulously take advantage of it and use it at the consumer/citizens’s detriment. These kinds of relative tactics, according to Edward Snowden, were used by the CIA on Americans.

But one can see where an FBI sting operation could benefit greatly by this capability. In terroristic or other country safety concerns, having such an enhanced ability could give a strong edge in gathering intelligence. When security is important in this manner, it is a welcomed component in maintaining safety.

How Are We Looking?

Humans have come a long way in how we can perceive one another. Trends in psychology and human behavior have evolved tremendously over the last several decades. Now, there is face detection software that not only helps us recognize one another in different ways, but gives computers the ability to read humans!

Many of the older generations may have never fathomed computer abilities actually being able to look at us and gather such intimate, personal information. It used to be the making of a sci-fi movie that machines had such incredible abilities.

Now, this basic assessment by a computer is only the tip of the iceberg to more complex and thorough abilities built into the ‘mind’ of a computer. But we must always keep on the forefront that these creations are of man, and may carry over a bit of his flaws (at least in the progress if it all, for now).

There is still this human side in the retinal reflection of computers and AI. In a sense, they are becoming our new companions and an extension of ourselves. And things we may not want to share with others, we may confide in computers giving us feedback to how we’re doing and what we want to learn!

The ability to interact, seemingly organically with us, starts with face detection capabilities. This power of vision within a computer just may make life easier, and perhaps better focused, for many humans.

Thanks for reading! Hope you found this article interesting and informative. Any feedback is encouraged to be left in the comments! I appreciate hearing from people and would like to know what you think!

– Mark G


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1 thought on “Face Detection | Computers Are Watching Humans!

  1. Hi Mark
    Face detection technology has been well used in our daily life already. Now, in airport, I just need to look at the camera and put my passport on the machine, they can recognize and identify me is the same person as shown in the passport. It’s extremely fast and cool. Likewise, my smartphone has face detection function for security locking purpose. I have not yet tried on ‘Facebook – face detection’ as you mention but it sounds so fun, I will try right afterwards. ‘Emotional inference’ is very enjoyable……

    Agree with you, face detection is very awesome and make life easier, but no one want to lose privacy or being annoyed by marketers or surveillance system! Thank you so much for your brilliant article, love it.

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