Hey, I Just Met You. I Took Your Picture. Now I Know Your Name.


In a scene in Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, enters a building and is immediately recognized by facial recognition sensors that start generating personalized advertisements. “John Anderton!! You could use a Guinness right about now!” 

In a way, the highly personalized advertisements that Minority Report predicted have already become a reality. By keeping track of online activities, companies like Amazon and Google can populate certain areas on an Internet browser with personalized shopping recommendations and ads. That’s exactly how Amazon recently knew that I was interested in replacing my old Converse Chuck Taylors.

Recently, Russian facial recognition startup company N-Tech Lab created a facial recognition application, FindFace, which may bring the advertisements in Minority Report one step closer to reality. FindFace works by allowing anyone to search for anyone else using a photo, rather than a name. By tapping into the database of Russian social network VK, FindFace was able to identify people with a VK account, just by using a photo. 

According to a recent article, FindFace’s technology is so advanced that it beat Google in a facial recognition contest called “Megaface,” which used a dataset of one million pictures. 

Not surprisingly, this advanced technology is already being abused.

According to Russian publication TJournal, some FindFace users started to use the facial recognition service to match explicit photos of former porn actresses and sex workers with images posted on VK, outing them to friends and family. 

This technology takes the idea of “saving face” to a whole another level. 

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