“In Your Face”: Fascinating Journey into Natural and Artificial Intelligence Facial Recognition

If you are Canadian you no doubt are familiar with one the nation’s must trusted and respected scientists David Suzuki. He has an uncanny ability to not only simplify science but to make it enjoyable.

A Canadian documentary “In Your Face” is presented on David Suzuki’s “Nature of Things” a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television show on January 21st at 9 p.m. The documentary is written and directed by Montreal native Josh Freed an internationally recognized producer of documentaries.

Although many of us are aware of the growing use of Artificial Intelligence facial recognition software you may be surprised that the human brain has been wired to enable humans to recognize faces. This ability starts almost right after birth. In fact most of us are so good at facial recognition we can often think we see faces in inanimate objects such as sinks or clouds. In fact some recent experiments on monkeys have enabled scientists to actually hear neurons in the monkeys’ brain firing when facial recognition is occurring. It seems we humans have a facial data bank recognition for over 5000 faces. But 2% of the population do not have this ability including Brad Pitt! This 2% face blind group may lack the ability to recognize their own face. Imagine not being able to recognize the faces of your children!

Yet there are the “super recognizers” that have the ability to never forget a face and they need not see the entire face to have this ability. They are in high demand in some police forces to operate in crowds to spot criminals and terrorists.

I like the segment of the documentary where viewers are asked to recognize celebrity faces that are masked in balaclavas so all you can see is part of the face and the eyes. I was 0/4!

It might be that our evolution as humans fine tuned this facial recognition ability. It enabled us to recognize friends and foes and was part of a survival recognition.

Then there is the AI side of facial recognition which seems flawed with unreliability to recognize different ethnic groups and leads to incorrect profiling and targeting. AI is out of control in China where there are 300 million CCTV cameras which is one for every five citizens. To even pay for fast-food meals a facial recognition camera is used. Interestingly humans have difficulty in facial recognition for faces outside their racial group. A study of adopted Korean children in France concluded that the children had a better success rate in facial recognition of Caucasians than for Korean faces showing that this facial recognition has a great cultural as opposed to genetic component.

This may amount to a huge breach of privacy capturing faces on camera. A face is a person and to capture that image without consent is a potential human rights violation.

I hope you will enjoy this documentary as much as I did. You can access this throughout the globe on streaming service CBC Gem as of January 21,2022 https://gem.cbc.ca/

As filmmaker Josh Freed says, “I never knew I had a superpower until I made this film about how we all recognize faces. It’s an amazing and untold story about what we do every time we meet someone.”

You can see the trailer here https://vimeo.com/664475263

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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