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Privacy Software Technology

Face-Swapping Software To Protect Privacy 85

(0d0 writes "Some researchers at Columbia University's Computer Vision Labratory have developed software to automatically replace faces in batches of photos. Practical applications include protecting the identities of people in Google's Street View, coupling it with a digital camera's burst mode to create a perfect group photo, or protecting the identities of witnesses or law enforcement and military personnel. Other links to coverage include Boing Boing, American Public Media, and New Scientist."
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Face-Swapping Software To Protect Privacy

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  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:19PM (#24424813) Journal

    Beat everyone else to the Laughing Man [] reference.

  • New Name (Score:4, Funny)

    by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:20PM (#24424833)

    Let's call the Automatic Fugly Machine.

    Dear god, they mangled those 2 celebrities *bad*. I think Denzel should sue them.

  • by CaptainPatent ( 1087643 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:21PM (#24424839) Journal
    Now we don't have to do it the old fashioned way. []
  • by Neanderthal Ninny ( 1153369 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:21PM (#24424841)

    Anything will help my ugly face! My face will scare Medusa!
    I remember a long time ago one of my co-workers was using a dating website in the 1990's and put another person's picture instead of their own picture. It would be interesting to picture of the girl when she arrived for the date!

  • by Coopjust ( 872796 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:22PM (#24424857)
    Unfortunately, I don't have any links saved, but I have seen several instances on Google Street View where faces have been blurred far beyond recognition, as well as license plates.

    The group photo thing sounds cool. Microsoft has a Research app called Group Shot that can stitch numerous photos together to make a group shot. The problem is, people aren't statues, and the movement of bodies becomes very obvious when a part of someones shoulder is 3 inches higher than the part next to it. I'd gladly pay for a consumer ready adaptation of this technology.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thisissilly ( 676875 )
      I've seen cases where a car's hubcaps were blurred, presumably because the face-search-and-blur algorithm hit it. Here is one example [] (for street view of 116 Manhattan Ave, Jersey City, NJ, in case the link isn't right). It would be interesting to see what the face swapping software does when one of the faces is a hubcap or other inanimate object. The other question is how reversible is the face swapping techonolgy? Given the altered photo and one of the two originals, can the 2nd original be reconstruc
      • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

        I've seen cases where a car's hubcaps were blurred, presumably because the face-search-and-blur algorithm hit it. Here is one example [] (for street view of 116 Manhattan Ave, Jersey City, NJ, in case the link isn't right).

        That's just because of all those cases of NJ hubcap thieves using Google street view to plan their larcenies. Those vile criminals !

    • Why does Google respect the privacy of people on the street but doesn't respect the privacy of marked private property? [] I was rather dismayed at Google's lawyer effectively saying that because technology like satellites exist and have photographed private property, and because people with legitimate business with the owners of private property may be expected to be allowed to enter on to private property, that by extension the ground level databasing of a persons private property is an assumed privilege.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vellmont ( 569020 )

        that by extension the ground level databasing of a persons private property is an assumed privilege.

        I'll never understand people that think they have some inherent right to control people taking a picture of something as mundane and non-personal as the outside of their house, or swimming pool.

        Are you really trying to argue that a picture of your "private" house is somehow more personal than publishing pictures of your person?

        The uproar about publishing pictures people in Google street view makes some sense

        • I really don't see how a picture of someones house is some big invasion of privacy.

          For starters, it is a house at the end of a private road. People live on private roads because they don't want their homes to be out in public view. Their reasons for that are really no one's business but the owners of the property. I'm not arguing that pictures of a house are more intrusive, but they are still intrusive enough particularly when that house has been purposefully set out of public view. By your logic, what i

          • By your logic, what is the big deal about going up to the windows and photographing the interiors as well?

            It's interesting you have to resort to a "by your logic" statement to try to make a point, even when there wasn't any "by your logic" going on. Anyway, I still don't understand what all the hoopla is about. Endlessly stating "private means private" shows nothing. I simply don't understand how someone seeing the outside of a house is so invasive.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Technically the nature of a house is not private but inherently public. It's appearance, it's internal design, it's fabrication, are all public and, public approval must be sought prior building or changing an existing structure. It is called building and planning approval.

            So while I definitely do not support googles privacy invasive practices (searching, email, browsing, groups, web scanning, masquerading behind other identities), in this case there is nothing to answer. Every building whether commercia

            • by fbjon ( 692006 )
              The nature of a house is inherently public. But after it has been built and people move ine, it is no longer just a house, but a home, and a home is not inherently public.
              • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
                It is still 100% subject to 'public' building and planning approval. The external of the house forms part of the built environment, the neighbourhood, which is shared by all and is subject by law to the requirements of local government with regards to appearance and structure up to including the point at which it gets demolished to make way for a new structure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Google's lawyers are still lawyers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by damiam ( 409504 )
        Maybe because the private property in question wasn't actually marked? From your link:

        "In its dismissal motion, Google noted that it intends to prove that there was "no clearly marked 'Private Road' sign at the beginning" of the Borings's street."

        I don't know about you, but I tend to assume that roads connecting to public roads are themselves public unless otherwise noted, especially when there are multiple homes connected to the same "driveway".

        • That might explain why they took the pictures in the first place, it fails entirely to explain why they are fighting in court to keep the pictures. Once Google learned was notified that it was private property, they should have simply removed the pictures from StreetView at the property owners request.
          • by damiam ( 409504 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @08:47PM (#24426413)
            Dude, no offense, but did you read the statement you linked to? Google has a simple process for removing imagery from Street View, which the property owners chose not to use. Google's not fighting to keep the photos up (since they would have happily taken them down if asked, and I think they might have done it anyway by now); they're fighting to avoid having to pay damages. It's hard to see how any damage was caused, since photos of the same house from street level were already publicly available online through their realtor's site (as well as satellite imagery, etc.), and the house is on a street that is not clearly marked as private.

            Sure, Google probably shouldn't have taken the picture in the first place, but it's hard to argue that this is the beginning of some nefarious plan to start indexing the world's private property. One of their drivers made a mistake, drove down a private lane that was not clearly marked as such, and now they're trying to avoid paying large sums of money to a couple who suffered no real damages and are clearly not acting in good faith.

  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:24PM (#24424881) Homepage

    Now everyone can be John Malkovich.

    • Even better, you can mix your face with famous actresses and see how your children would look like :D

      • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) *

        Hey Yeah!

        I could do that to see what my love child would look like with Jessica Simpson. Maybe I could even send her the picture? Nothing bad could happen from that right?


  • by johnny cashed ( 590023 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:31PM (#24424969) Homepage []

    Are you surprised? It is google, they sell advertising.
  • Funny.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dahitokiri ( 1113461 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:32PM (#24424993)

    protecting the identities of [...] law enforcement and military personnel.

    Funny, I don't remember LEA/military personnel actively trying to protect OUR privacy lately. One wonders why we shouldn't do the same for them.

  • by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:35PM (#24425019)

    So when the airport screeners use their fancy equipment to look at our naked bodies... they can put someone else's face on them?

    The mind boggles.

    • by Chyeld ( 713439 )

      So when the airport screeners use their fancy equipment to look at our naked bodies... they can put someone else's face on them?

      I wouldn't mind if they just went the whole nine yards and used someone elses body.

    • by mgblst ( 80109 )

      Why do airport screeners get to have all the fun. Finally, Natalie Portman completely naked.

      • And where oh where is the reference to that warm southern corn porridge? Hmm, I guess grits wouldn't image very well.
  • by ryanov ( 193048 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:37PM (#24425041)

    Whose faces are they placing here? Couldn't that then be used to place someone's face in a place where they weren't? I realize it would have to be some kind of perfect storm for that to become a problem (face gets swapped just as someone was committing a crime or what have you), but... I dunno. Unless they're using fake faces, I wonder about this.

    • by vrmlguy ( 120854 )

      I'm planning to use it to put the face of that girl I've been stalking onto the body of some porn start. I wonder how well it'll work on video?

    • Absolutely, the paparazzi are going to love this application.

      I bet you could use their software to crawl google and build a database of compromising images, analyze all the faces within them, then take a random photo of a celebrity and put their face in a bunch of compromising photos...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      I'd assume that they'd just hire a couple of models, get them to sign release forms, and use their faces. Which will probably lead to the surreal experience of seeing the same person no matter where you look on Google Street View. A few years from now, there will probably be an FAQ that asks "Who is this guy, and how come you've photographed him all over the world?"

      • by stoofa ( 524247 )
        The article says that they built up a library using photos of faces downloaded from the internet. So that completely defeats the whole point.

        They'll be protecting my privacy by sticking some Brazilian chap onto my face, but equally could end up protecting the same Brazilian chap by sticking my face on him.
        • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

          The article says that they built up a library using photos of faces downloaded from the internet. So that completely defeats the whole point.

          They should just use the face of Bob [] and earn more slack in the process.

      • All they need to do is employ the services of John Malkovich []

        Job done!
  • It changes everyone's face to Melanie Griffith's- post surgery.
  • Not good enough. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:40PM (#24425075) Homepage

    The people in the modified photographs look enough like the the original person to still be identifiable. People are still going to recognize themselves in a google photograph, if for no other reason than the combination of hairstyle, face shape, and skin tone.

    That's not to say it's not impressive technology. I just don't think it's at a very usable stage yet though.

  • With todays advances in automatic algorithms to distort, hide and now finally swap faces I have come up with another breath-taking idea.
    You read it first on /. and I claim dibs to any and all comercial rights one could wring out of it.

    Chin-recognition etcetera!

    1; a way, means, method, algorithm or systematic process to identify a person or other humanoid being by using the chin-region of the anatomy.
    2; as in 1, but using a different part of the anatomy including obscene or in other circumstances cove

  • WTF!!?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <> on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:46PM (#24425149) Homepage Journal

    Why the hell is there a tiny url ( []) in this story? Where does it point? Goatse? Tubgirl? Some random PDF? [] This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen slip by the editors. It's not like this is Twittr, where you're limited to 140 bytes.

    Maybe Slashcode [] needs something to automatically follow links in articles and replace them with their target if they redirect.

  • by Pincus ( 744497 )
    In all my photos, everybody around me will be Agent Smith.
  • I read the header as, "Wife swapping software to protect your privates."

  • with If They Mated (tm) technology
    • So there are no people shaped holes in the images.

      Personally, I would have liked all the people switched into anons. Fox could have a field day. 'Google spreading the Internet hacker terrorist message!'
  • Just put Richard D. James' face on everybody.

  • it would be cool in a freaky kind of way to have somesort of plugin that could do this to video in real in time for camming and stuff.
    I'd use Donald Duck as a source.

    oh wait did I click Post Anonumousluy?

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vexorian ( 959249 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:36AM (#24428459)
    I don't get it . Wouldn't an algorithm that does the usual "pixelifying" effect on faces it finds automatically make more sense? At least for these applications.
  • This technology will also come in handy on Yahoo Personals...

    (at least it will as soon as its able to deal with barnyard animals...)

  • Please collect your cards on the way out of the building.
  • Subterfuge is a tactic of modern data security and privacy. --Ben []

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