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Picasa Rolls Out 3.0 — Now With Facial Recognition 243

Posted by timothy
from the face-in-the-crowd dept.
eldavojohn writes "If you use Picasa (Google's photo sharing site), they have upgraded to 3.0 and are purportedly offering facial recognition. That's right, why tag photos of your friends when the software will group similar faces together for you? There's a new list of features including repairing old photographs by touching them up and even writing on your images. As expected, not everyone is 'ok' with Google automatically recognizing you in pictures."
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Picasa Rolls Out 3.0 — Now With Facial Recognition

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  • Ah good (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:24PM (#24863671)

    It can sort my porn.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Picasa Web Albums, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, distribute and publish such Content through Picasa Web Albums, including RSS or other content feeds offered through Picasa Web Albums, and other Google services. In addition, by submitting, posting or displaying Content which is intended to be available to the general public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, distribute and publish such Content for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services.

  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:27PM (#24863727) Homepage
    Google's Picasa is a photo-manipulation application that you download to your computer and install so you can manipulate images. It includes the capability of uploading those files to PicasaWeb, which is actually the photo-sharing site...
    • by E IS mC(Square) (721736) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:56PM (#24864167) Journal
      And it actually is great tool for managing (and non-destructive basic editing of) your pictures (unless you are a pro and in need of production house pro tools).

      I have been Picasa user even before it was purchased by Google, and it has been pretty good for everything I need to do with my personal pictures (over 20000 now).

      This is a big update - not only face recognition, but a lot of new tools are added or enhanced. Now you can even make/edit movies (basic, but good), which otherwise was view-only till 2.7.

      A good video on new features: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rskC6c_5L1M [youtube.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kimos (859729)
        Also, yes it does run on Linux using Wine [google.com]. Though 3.0 seems to only be available through beta at the moment.

        In my opinion it's the best photo management application on Windows or Linux, hands down. From sorting to basic editing and touch-ups it does everything you could want it to, without making a mess of your photo directories.
        • by pcolaman (1208838)

          Also, yes it does run on Linux using Wine [google.com]. Though 3.0 seems to only be available through beta at the moment.

          And it being in beta form is different from other google software how? Gmail still is in Beta, even after having used it since before you could get in without an invite.

        • by nahdude812 (88157) *

          It's the best end-user photo management application. Lightroom does the same job but much much better (though it doesn't hold your hand like Picasa does - not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just a different audience).

  • Picasa is not creepy at all. It's one of the few products from Google pack that I use on a regular basis. It's nice being able to see all the pictures on your computer from one place. It occasionally sometimes takes a really long time to start up though.
  • by Luthair (847766) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:31PM (#24863783)
    to find out if you tag someone mooning the camera, if the facial recognition will eventually 'recognize' a friends face.
  • Families (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:32PM (#24863789) Homepage Journal

    Considering that members of a family typically bear a very strong resemblance to one another (with identical twins being the extreme case), I would think this would be one of the tougher trials for a facial recognition algorithm.

    • now you got me curious.. I'm going to have to install this on the wife's windows PC, and put in photos that have my brothers that are twins, and see what happens. Wonder how long it will take google to update the linux version to 3. (yes, I know its just the windows one with a wine wrapper, but I like it better than f-spot)

    • K, so I've been playing now. First, its in the picasaweb web albums, not in the downloaded program. But it scanned the pictures, and I started entering names. I tagged a bunch of faces of my wife, and her mom, and when I got to her sister, the "suggested tag" had both my wife's and her mom's names. Very interesting.. it definitely saw the family resemblance..

  • by megamerican (1073936) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:32PM (#24863805)

    the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has been spending millions and possibly billions [boston.com] on face recognizing cameras for cities around the nation.

    It wouldn't be too difficult for the DHS to take the information from google and incorporate it in their own databases.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Probably they can take the raw pictures far before this, and do their own face recognition.

      Is not the government that you must be afraid of, putting this in hands of everyone will ease a lot of things for normal people, and as tools, can be used with good and wrong intentions, and even be "accidents" making easier to see the right people in the wrong places or viceversa.
  • It's not from the insert-joke-here department. It's not from any department!! AIIEEEEE!!!

  • How is this not a violation of basic data protection laws in numerous jurisdictions (like, say, pretty much all of Europe)?

    This is the curse of social networking sites generally: you don't have to be the person providing personal information about yourself, because chances are your well-meaning friends will do it for you.

    • by Animaether (411575) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:16PM (#24864431) Journal

      I was watching a Dr. Phil show by chance about a week back that dealt with some girls posting questionable pictures of themselves (not naked, just.. plastered) on their Facebook/whatever, and discussing how that might impact their (future) lives - with one employer type guy saying that he will check you out on the internet and if he were to find stuff like that, not consider you for a job.

      So Dr. Phil and some 'expert' went on to say that posting pictures like that is not good, blablabla; the same stuff parents would tell their children, I guess.

      But what Anonymous Brave Guy mentioned was not even touched upon in the program; yes, it's stupid if you publish those pictures yourself, but what are you gonna do if somebody -else- posts those pictures?
      Yes, you can ask them to take them down... maybe they will, maybe they won't.. in the latter case you might ask Facebook.. who may take them down, or not.. in the latter case you might have to sue, etc. But even if your friend does take them down... a friend of theirs may have already copied it to -their- facebook page. In no time, it can be in a hundred random places on the internet... and that employer-type guy is going to find it and not hire you. So what are you going to do against that? Check if anybody's taking pictures while you're plastered? Good luck doing that when every cellphone has a camera these days. Only get plastered while in a private setting? Most of these pictures -are- from private parties.

      I guess the answer is "don't get plastered". Sadly, that means "Don't do anything whatsoever that, while innocuous, may be interpreted in such a way by other people as to form a negative opinion of you either personally or professionally". A boring life that'll be.

      Back to the topic at hand; protecting your own privacy is all good and well, but in the end, if others are allowed to talk about you in the forum of a billion people that is the internet, you're bound to be screwed one way or another.

      • I'm sure there are some jobs where such photos would actually mean you are less capable of some other candidate. But generally speaking if someone was so egomaniacal as to think pictures of me drunk on my own time means I'm less capable of doing my job, I really don't want to work for them anyway.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LandDolphin (1202876)
          Bad decisions in your personal life could mean that you might make bad decisions in your professional life too.
    • Don't have any friends.

    • because its still up to you to upload the pictures to picasaweb if you choose, now STFU with all the google hating FUD

    • There is no such thing as privacy on the internet. Information wants to be free, remember?

      As usual you're free to hide under a rock and not put any "private" information of yourself, such as a portrait photograph, on the internet.
      But chances are that one day a photo showing your face (maybe simply because you walked through the pic when someone *else* was taking one) will end up somewhere. And chances are that one day (maybe in a decade) a photo-crawler will pick it up and somehow manage to annotate it with

  • by asmitty (953644) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:33PM (#24863819)
    This was one of my favorite programs when I was on Windows, and I miss its use on my mac. I enjoy iPhoto, but Picasa just had so many features that I loved and used and find so much better than iPhoto. Things like watching folders to see when new pictures were added, moved, and deleted. Cmon google...
  • I'm not thrilled that Picasa will probably update itself without asking my permission. I seem to remember that happened once before. Seeing as how I need to use Picasa this afternoon, I'll have to de-network the computer first.

    I'm REALLY worried that one day the old MusicMatch Jukebox v8 that came with my 4-year-old Dell will be remotely disabled somehow one day because I refuse to upgrade to yahoo or whatever it's turned into now. It seems to randomly connect somewhere and issue "friendly reminders" to

  • Oh bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:34PM (#24863847) Homepage

    From TFA:

    This is also a larger issue for parents with small children. Other family members could tag photos of your child on the Internet. If a predator were to find pictures labeled with a location and a full name, he could gather enough information on your child to pose as a family friend in an attempt to lure your child from safety.

    This is why you raise your child with a "whitelist" concept of who is a family friend. That's how my parents did it, and how most people did it when I was growing up. If I didn't know you, guess what? That meant you didn't come around enough to know you were a family friend, and no friend of my parents would have been upset if I didn't trust them and we'd never met. Why? Family friends understand that sort of thing from little kids who may have met them at most once or twice. Most of the problems should go away when they hit the teenage years because by that time, they can be reasonably expected to be able to figure these things out, and make their own way home.

    I don't trust Google, but give it a rest with the sex offender crap. If your kids fall prey to this, it's your fault, not Google's fault because you should have taught them to only trust "friends of the family" that you introduced them to.

    • Re:Oh bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:53PM (#24864117)

      I agree. The author is criticizing Google for something that anyone can do today with normal web tools.

      Another problem arises when one of your friends decides to make their name tags public. You could see pictures labeled with your name popping up on the Web without your knowledge. While this information is not necessary included in search results, it can still prove problematic.

      One of my friends could take a photo of me then, without my knowledge, upload it to their web site/blog/MySpace page/whatever with the caption "This is Jason Levine." Has Web Host/Blog Software Provider/MySpace/whatever just committed a huge privacy violation? No. If a privacy violation happened (and it would depend on the nature of the photo), the friend is the one who committed it. Google's tool doesn't increase the means for privacy violations.

      This is also a larger issue for parents with small children. Other family members could tag photos of your child on the Internet. If a predator were to find pictures labeled with a location and a full name, he could gather enough information on your child to pose as a family friend in an attempt to lure your child from safety.

      Whenever someone uses the "child predator" argument, my BS detector goes off. And this is coming from the father of two small children. My wife maintains a blog where she posts photos of our kids and information about what they (and we) have been up to. While I've been comfortable using my real name online for quite some time (see my Slashdot user name), my wife isn't as comfortable with it. So I've helped her keep many things anonymous including our and our childrens' names. I'm sure that a determined individual could track her blog back to my real name, but casual users will need to know us by our initials.

      If you are that fearful that a predator will use online tools to stalk your child then:

      1. Teach your child about Stranger Danger. (We're attempting to instill this into our 5 year old without having him shut down at the mere sight of a stranger. Yes, he did take it that far at first!)
      2. Know what your child is doing online and offline at all times.
      3. Don't post things online that you wouldn't want any old person seeing. (Doesn't stop others from posting that stuff online, but how many people post things to their MySpace pages then complain about other people knowing about the stuff.)

      A predator could stake out the local playground and look for likely targets. This doesn't mean that you abandon all public playgrounds, but that you be smart about it.

    • Re:Oh bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:19PM (#24864473) Homepage

      This is why you raise your child with a "whitelist" concept of who is a family friend. That's how my parents did it, and how most people did it when I was growing up.

      Indeed, same here. It's the other half of that most basic of messages you give your child on being safe: "Don't talk to strangers". I remember turning away a trusted family friend from the door when I was like four. Of course he wasn't mad, I was a kid who didn't trust strangers like I should. When I was a little older, they also added another level, which was a "pass phrase" I couldn't ever tell anyone, and they'd use if there was some emergency so they had to send someone to pick me up for whatever reason.

      I don't trust Google, but give it a rest with the sex offender crap. If your kids fall prey to this, it's your fault, not Google's fault because you should have taught them to only trust "friends of the family" that you introduced them to.

      Well like most sexual predator hysteria, this is yet another case where they ignore the most important (though sad and disturbing) fact which is: The vast majority of sexual predators are "friends of the family" if not family themselves, and thus don't need Google or anything else to find their victims.

      • Re:Oh bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordKronos (470910) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:20PM (#24866049) Homepage

        Hopefully this doesn't double post...looks like I screwed up and lost it the first time.

        Well like most sexual predator hysteria, this is yet another case where they ignore the most important (though sad and disturbing) fact which is: The vast majority of sexual predators are "friends of the family" if not family themselves, and thus don't need Google or anything else to find their victims.

        Besides that very relevant fact, the whole idea of this is silly. It's what I like to refer to as the internet-predator-turned-private-investigator. If you were some sick perv and wanted to do a kid, your options are:

        1) Find a photo of a random kid on the internet, figure out who the kid is, where he lives, who he/she is with at what time of day each day, where, who is around, when he/she will be alone, and then finally perform the abduction, all in a manner fitting of some crappy movie. or...

        2) find a random kid alone and abduct him/her

        I don't doubt that #1 has happened. It's a big world, and pretty much anything that could happen has. However, I think the fact is your kid is probably many times more at risk of being trampled in a stampede of elephants that falling victim to such an elaborate and illogical abduction scenario. At least 99.99999% of pervs are either going to go for scenario 2, or find someone in the family they can molest, or even find a kid in a chat room willing to hand out all the necessary info on request.

        If there is a danger out there, it isn't automatically tagged photos.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I like the idea of a "whitelist", but it's at least worth noting that something like 40% of women are abused by people that they know (particularly family members), [news.com.au] who would presumably make the cut.

  • by R2.0 (532027)

    My wife is:
    1) a shutterbug
    2) a packrat
    3) totally disorganized

    the ability to type in "find R3.0" and have it come up with all the pics of my son would make my life a lot easier.

  • Confused... (Score:2, Insightful)

    I can understand Picasa auto-tagging, that actually sounds like a nice feature. But why would this be a rights violation, or applicable to the YRO section at all? As long as you use Picasa as a picture album and don't let it integrate with web services automatically, you shouldn't have a problem. And if you do allow it to... maybe it's time to re-examine what information you entrust to a computer's discretion.
  • Sigh - Picasa is the one app that I really missed when I moved to a Mac. I loved it. And years later it's still Windows only...
    • I thought you OSX guys could emulate everything in Windows so you'd never have to go back to MS to run your old programs. Or have I been horribly misled.

      If I could port about 6 programs to Linux, I'd be tempted to switch the entire office to Ubuntu just to piss off Ballmer (not that he would care, but it's the thought that counts). I've already got a migration plan started to go from SBS2003 to Ubuntu (mail) and slackware (well, unRaid, but it's built on slackware). I use so little of 2003 it's not like I'm

    • by txoof (553270)

      I almost forgot, Picasa 2 runs GREAT under CrossOver Mac [codeweavers.com]. It's truly amazing how well it works. I wasn't willing to shell out the $60 just so I could use Picasa, but picasa and a few other apps ran great under the trial version. I might have to check it out again to see how well it works with Picasa 3.

      The tagging, searching and organizing of photos under Picasa might be worth the bucks Crossover costs. Iphoto does a terrible job of organizing and tagging. Bibble is great for editing, but sucks entirely

  • by cojsl (694820) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:43PM (#24863985) Homepage
    How do you try this feature out? I RTFA, WVFYTV (*** you tube video), read the new feature page (which as far as I can see, doesn't mention this feature), did a few searches on the feature, then installed picasa 3 and fiddled with tagging photos, but no tag suggestions have come up. Can someone please enlighten me as to how this works?
  • by ahoehn (301327) <andrew@hoe.OOOhn minus threevowels> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:55PM (#24864153) Homepage

    Really? Privacy, a big concern because you can choose to download a piece of software that will attempt to recognize your face? Or *gasp* a friend could import a photo of you into said software? Without your written consent? The Horror! Won't somebody please think of the children!

    You think I'm exaggerating, but TFA actually says:

    This is also a larger issue for parents with small children. Other family members could tag photos of your child on the Internet. If a predator were to find pictures labeled with a location and a full name, he could gather enough information on your child to pose as a family friend in an attempt to lure your child from safety. What is Google's advice on keeping your children safe?

    Now will you please explain to me how this is more of a concern than some random friend tagging said photos without the use of Google's software?
     
    I'm all for privacy, but this seems like a white whale. Nobody's forcing you to use Picasa, and there's really nothing intrusive about this application of the technology. I think it's just the phrase, "Facial Recognition" that brings to mind images of big brother.
     
    Let's try and do a better job of picking our battles.

    • by wurp (51446)

      You're right, that this is just a change in the level of effort to get public photos tagged. I agree that it's not something people should freak out over because it destroys their privacy.

      That said, changes in the level of effort to do something make all the difference in the world. Before the internet, I could go to a library and read books, magazines & newspapers on a topic. I could send people snail mail or call them. Being able to use the internet to do these things trivially is a quantitative d

    • by nmos (25822)

      I might be misunderstanding how this works but I think the problem people have is that pictures and the resulting "fingerprints" end up in Google's database rather than just on your computer. This does seem to have the potential for misuse. Remember, you're not the only one who has pictures of you.

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by astrashe (7452) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:58PM (#24864207) Journal

    The technology exists. It's out of the bag. It doesn't matter if Google does it -- if they don't, someone else will.

    You have to assume that in a couple of years, someone can take a phone cam picture of you on the street and use it to trace you back to a Facebook page (or whatever). Or that the police can trace you back to your DMV photo.

    If you can't handle that, stop posting pictures of yourself in a way that allows someone to tie them to your real name. And take down the ones that are already up there.

    This is inevitable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Agreed, this is the direction we're heading, or at least this is the capability our technology is going to give us.

      Perhaps I'll miss one or two, but off the top of my head, our options are:
      1) Try to stop developing tech entirely (goodluckwiththat)
      2) Try to get private citizens not able to use this tech, and only allow government access to it (shutter)
      3) Allow as much access as the tech itself will allow and monitor and restrict government usage (the option that seems to make the most sense to me)

      As
    • If you can't handle that, stop posting pictures of yourself in a way that allows someone to tie them to your real name. And take down the ones that are already up there.

      Except for the ones at your school or corporate site, already helpfully tagged with your name.
      It is, as you say, out of the bag already.
  • by skwang (174902) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:10PM (#24864355)

    I'm not that worried. [failblog.org] There are still some kinks to be worked out.

  • I work at a sewage treatment plant, so needless to say, I was VERY excited about this release right until I realized it said that *faces* are recognized. Bummer. So I guess I'll have to wait until version 4 to get my taxonomy project underway.
  • Direct download link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Archimonde (668883) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:27PM (#24864631) Homepage

    As there are no valid links in any of the pages linked in the story, I managed to find one manually:

    http://dl.google.com/picasa/picasa3-setup.exe [google.com]

  • by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:41PM (#24864823)
    I had no idea you could identify a male pornstar from their facials. What an odd feature to include in a public photo app...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rpp3po (641313)

      I had no idea you could identify a male pornstar from their facials. What an odd feature to include in a public photo app...

      They probably fingerprint the angle, muzzle velocity, plane of rotation, and average amount per second after launch (time data from EXIF fields) of the male's seed.

      To extract these parameters Google's patented algorithm needs on average only 2.6 pictures out of a sequence, which is excellent. The facial splash additionally contains information about the seed's viscosity which can be added to the fingerprint, to increase uniqueness of the data set in the case of overlapping results.

  • Beware the EULA for Chrome in which Google claims rights to all your content, including picasa posts: 11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights that you already hold in Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit
    • careysb is spot on. This is the exact same issue many people had with Google Chrome [slashdot.org]. Google changed the license agreement for Google Chrome earlier today; one wonders if they will make the same fix for Picasa 3.0.
  • by sckeener (137243) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:39PM (#24866259)

    I think they read my post...
    I made a comment to this article about "Computer Scientists Scour Your Holiday Photos"
    http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/06/18/1323224 [slashdot.org]

    and here's my post:

    http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=587635&cid=23843099 [slashdot.org]

    Google should get behind this. I think their Picasa would benefit from it.

    Generate some autotags.

    What would be nice also is if they had a feature where if you labeled someone in a picture, if you uploaded another picture with that person in the picture, the program would prompt to auto tag.

    I've been going through old family photos and it would save so much time if the programs I am using autolabeled based off details in the picture.

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