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Google is making its mark in facial recognition technology. After two successful forays in facial identification patents in August 2017 and January 2018, Google is back with another charter. This time its huge and plans to use machine-learning technology for facial recognition of publicly available personal photos on the internet. It’s no secret that Google can crawl trillions of websites at once. Using this as an advantage, the new patent allows Google to source pictures and identify faces from personal communications, social networks, collaborative apps, blogs and much more!

Why is facial recognition gaining importance?

The internet is buzzing with people clicking and uploading their images. Whether it be profile pictures or group photographs, images on social networks is all the rage these days.  Apart from this, facial recognition also comes in handy while performing secure banking and financial transactions. ATMs and banks use this technology to make sure the user is who he/she says they are. From criminal tracking to identifying individuals in huge masses of people- facial recognition has applications everywhere!

Clearly, Google has been taking full advantage of this tech. First, in the “Reverse Image Search” system, that allowed users to upload an image of a public figure to Google, the results would be a “best Guess” about who appears in the photo. And now, with the new patent, users can identify photos of less famous individuals. Imagine uploading a picture of a fifth-grade friend and coming back with the result of his/her email ID or occupation or for that matter, where they lives!

The Workings of the Google Brain

The process is simple and straightforward.

  1. First, the user uploads a photo, screenshot or scanned image
  2. The system analyzes the image and comes up with  both visually similar, and a potential match using advanced image recognition
  3. Google will find the best possible match  based partially on the data it pulled from your social accounts and other collaborative apps plus the aforementioned data sources

The process of recognizing an image adopted by Google

Source: CBInsights

While all of this does sound exciting, there is a dark side left to be explored.

Imagine you are out going about your own business. Someone who you don’t even know happens to click your picture. This could later be used to find out all your personal details like where you live, what you do for a living, what your email address. All because everything is available on your social media accounts and on the internet these days!  Creepy much?

This is where basic ethics and privacy concerns come into play. The only solace here is that the patent states, in certain scenarios, a person would have to opt-in to have his/identity appear in search results.

Need to know more? Check out the perspective on thenextweb.com.

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