Have you ever noticed your friends getting tagged automatically after you upload a group picture? Though the technology has now gained widespread attention, its history can be traced back to the 1960s. Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Bledsoe, an American mathematician and computer scientist, is one of the founders of pattern and facial recognition technology. Back in the 1960s, he developed ways to classify faces using gridlines. A striking fact was, even during the experimental and inception phase, the application was able to match 40 faces per hour.
Artificial intelligence technology has proven itself useful in many different areas, and now birdwatching has gotten the A.I. treatment. A new A.I. tool can identify up to 200 different species of birds just by looking at one photo. The technology comes from a team at Duke University that used over 11,000 photos of 200 bird species to teach a machine to differentiate them. The tool was shown birds from ducks to hummingbirds and was able to pick out specific patterns that match a particular species of bird. "Along the way, it spits out a series of heat maps that essentially say: 'This isn't just any warbler. It's a hooded warbler, and here are the features -- like its masked head and yellow belly -- that give it away,'" wrote Robin Smith, senior science writer in Duke's communications department, in a blog post about the new technology.
Over the past week, the #2009vs2019 meme challenge, alternately known as the #10yearchallenge and #HowHardDidAgeHitYou, has become the latest social media trend ripe for think piece fodder. While the challenge inspired a host of discussions about social media narcissism and gendered norms, author and consultant Kate O'Neill put her own spin on the meme in a tweet raising the privacy implications of posting age-separated photos of oneself on Facebook. The post generated enough buzz and discussion on Twitter that O'Neill expanded it into an article in Wired, in which she argued that Facebook or another data-hungry entity could exploit the meme to train facial recognition algorithms to better handle age-related characteristics and age progression predictions. She noted that the clear labeling of the year in which the pictures were taken, along with the volume of pictures explicitly age-separated by a set amount of time, could be quite valuable to a company like Facebook. "In other words, thanks to this meme, there's now a very large data set of carefully curated photos of people from roughly 10 years ago and now," O'Neill wrote.