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[ NNSquad ] More on Google "Search by Image" and Facial Recognition Realities

More on Google "Search by Image" and Facial Recognition Realities
http://j.mp/mkpZrt  (This message on Google Buzz)

  - - -

To follow-up on my posting earlier today re Google's announcements
this morning: http://j.mp/ikGJLJ  (Google Buzz)

I have confirmed what I suspected -- Search by Image does *not* use
facial recognition technology.  This is in keeping with Google's
stated current position regarding the use of such systems (that is,
facial recognition is not deployed by Google at this time).

A couple of points I'd like to clarify based on queries I received
after my posting.  First, even without facial recognition (which is a
complex area unto itself), you may get matches in Search by Image (as
has also been the case for Google Goggles) for famous photos or
paintings.  So, for example, a classic portrait of President Kennedy's
face is likely to have been uploaded by many users over time, and your
image search using that same portrait or photo as input may be likely
to match those other copies.  But this is matching based on the
overall characteristics of the images, just like any other image.

Facial recognition, on the other hand, described simply, especially
seeks to match faces that are *not* in identical images.  In other
words, facial recognition algorithms seek to identify Person A based
on a random image of that person (e.g., from a live video feed), using
the parameters of that face as intelligently analyzed.  This is not
the same as matching two different copies of, say, the classic Playboy
Marilyn Monroe centerfold.

That said, we are fooling ourselves if we believe it is actually
possible to "bottle up" facial recognition technology forever in any
contexts.  Facial recognition tech of various quality levels *will*
eventually (and sooner rather than later) be broadly deployed in all
manner of venues -- some of them extremely useful in positive ways --
and some of them likely risky from a privacy standpoint.  Some
situations will be mixtures of both.

It would very much be in our best interests to be spending more time
now working on the policy implications of *how* this technology will
be managed and reasonably controlled, not on trying to broadly prevent 
its use.

Off topic: I've been booked back onto "Coast to Coast AM" radio
tonight for a couple of minutes during the news segment (just after
10pm PDT), to very briefly discuss Facebook's loss of U.S. users.
Finally, a happy story!

http://j.mp/aa2R2N  (Coast to Coast affiliate stations list)

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Google Buzz: http://j.mp/laurenbuzz 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com