Facebook Identification Tech's Giant Leap Forward

A new algorithm can identify the man beneath the mask.

Facebook has taken an impressive algorithmic leap forward. It can now recognize your face, even if you wear a bag or a sheet over your head, Charlie Brown Halloween style.

Using data on posture, apparel, and hairstyle, Facebook is learning to recognize people in the same way you do, which — if the megacompany is in the toddler state of its artificial intelligence youth — means it’s going to start hugging strangers’ legs in malls. According to Yann LeCun, company’s head of AI, the new algorithm can identify people with 83% accuracy, using characteristics other than facial features.

The ramifications are at once alarming and comforting: On the one hand, Facebook can identify you without your consent; on the other hand, Facebook knows where you are and can tell you about it. Now that the site is almost as good as your friends at recognizing you, you can (hopefully) expect an alert when that photo of you passed out face down hits the web.

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