Facebook has the largest biometric database in the world and the potential to recognize anybody's face29/10/2013 18:02
Look at Facebook, says Amie Stepanovich, director of the domestic surveillance project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C.
Facebook has the largest biometric database in the world — "and it's all been formed by people voluntarily submitting pictures to Facebook and identifying who they belong to," she says.
Theoretically, every time you label faces by tagging a picture, you're chipping away at those two big challenges for universal facial recognition. First, you're helping to build a super-database of labeled faces. Second, you're uploading multiple versions of each person's face, which can improve a system's accuracy.
"If you had lots of photos of each person ... you could build a model for Martin, a model for me, a model for other people. Now you have a custom-tuned model for each person," Kumar, from the University of Washington, says.
Multiply that by a billion — a billion custom-tuned facial "models."
Facebook would not answer NPR's questions about what it does with facial recognition information; social media companies rarely talk about their internal systems.
But they're surely aware of their huge database's potential. Last year, Facebook bought Face.com, whose company's founders had titled "Leveraging Billions of Faces to Overcome Performance Barriers in Unconstrained Face Recognition."