Microsoft 'Teaching' Software to Recognize Faces

Loraine Lawson

I was hanging out on Facebook when I started to wonder what my old buddy, Microsoft, is up to these days.


I mean, other than thumb wrestling with Google, of course.


Microsoft didn't return my "poke," but I found my answer anyway on Technology Review, where I read that Microsoft researchers are busy trying to to tap the computing power of the human brain.


Their thought, apparently, is to tap the unused processing power in the subconscious and put it to use solving problems computers can't hack -- at least, not yet.


OK, to be honest, that's a bit of an exaggeration. It's not like they're hooking humans up to computers to make batteries or anything.


Actually, researchers are recording what happens when our brains look at faces versus non-faces and then using software to sort through the resulting EEG data. It uses the person's response to determine which images were faces. It sounds a bit like master data service, where the software sorts through customer data files -- for instance -- and looks for markers that identify the same customer.


According to Technology Review, supercomputers take hours to recognize a face from a non-face, but our brains can do it without any conscious effort, and even just by using our peripheral vision. The accuracy is pretty impressive -- using a sample of one person who viewed the images once, the software can identify faces with up to 72.5 percent accuracy. Add in eight people who viewed the images twice, and the accuracy is 98 percent.

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