From the cartoonish expression of a USB plug, to the sight of Jesus in a slice of toast, there are hidden faces all around us – but, only some people can see them. The phenomenon, known as pareidolia, is a psychological response that causes some people to see familiar patterns, such as faces, in random objects. In a study of 2,000 people, UK firm Lenstore has uncovered a number of trends among those who see faces in everyday objects, revealing women and religious people are more likely than others to experience the sensation. From the cartoonish expression of a USB plug, to the sight of Jesus in a slice of toast, there are hidden faces all around us – but, only some people can see them. Can you see a face in the pepper, above?
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You may have once seen a giant face in the clouds. Perhaps it took you aback, amused you, or maybe it prompted an "uncanny valley" kind of sensation--realness, but with a lingering unease. It's thought that a similar experience was shared by an early hominid approximately 3 million years ago. Researchers say a rock that bore resemblance to a face was carried, over some four kilometers from where it was probably found, to an Australopithecine home. Known as the Makapansgat pebble, it was found in 1925 in a South-African cave, in what may well have been a camp or dwelling.
This collection is an exploration of neural networks and their dreams with the goal of giving the viewer a sense of pareidolia. The code used to generate these dreams was created through my research into visual perception during my PhD. Each piece is unique 1/1. There will only ever be 36 unique pieces created. Deep dream is one of the earliest techniques that was used to interpret what deep convolutional neural networks trained for computer vision tasks "dream" of.
Human beings are champions at spotting patterns, especially faces, in inanimate objects--think of the famous "face on Mars" in images taken by the Viking 1 orbiter in 1976, which is essentially a trick of light and shadow. And people are always spotting what they believe to be the face of Jesus in burnt toast and many other (so many) ordinary foodstuffs. There was even a (now defunct) Twitter account devoted to curating images of the "faces in things" phenomenon. This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast.