Tag Archives: Josh Davis

Recent articles about supers, prosopagnosia, policing and face recognition research

Keefe, Patrick Radden The detectives who never forget a face. New Yorker. August 22nd 2016. Print edition title: Total Recall.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/londons-super-recognizer-police-force

I was glad to read in this substantial and interesting article that face identification was not the only evidence used to convict criminals. And the last couple of sentences in this piece are too true!

 

Montagne, Renee ‘New Yorker’: The Detectives Who Never Forget A Face. NPR. August 17th 2016.

http://www.npr.org/2016/08/17/490314062/new-yorker-the-detectives-who-never-forget-a-face

 

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A nice bit of botanical pareidolia

Davis, Josh (2016) Newly Described Orchid Has A Tiny Demon At Its Center. IFLS. 15th July 2016.

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/newly-described-orchid-has-a-tiny-demon-at-its-center/

 

This week’s New Scientist has cover story about super-recognizers

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22830484-800-super-recognisers-could-be-used-to-identify-strangers-in-cctv/

Recent online articles about super recognizers, and a link to a test

Madhumita Venkataramanan’s article for the BBC (third down) is well worth your reading time. I wonder whether Madhumita might have read my tips for acing or gunning tests of face memory?

UK Cops Using Gifted ‘Super Recognizers’ to Fight Crime

Cathy Burke Newsmax.com

http://www.newsmax.com/International/super-recognizers-facial-recognition-London-Metropolitan-Police-world/2015/06/16/id/650791/#ixzz3dKPCFmgR

‘Super recognisers’ used by the police to identify criminals and spot offenders in crowds

Alexandra Sims

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/super-recognisers-used-by-the-police-to-identify-criminals-and-spot-offenders-in-crowds-10324186.html

The superpower police now use to tackle crime.

Madhumita Venkataramanan

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150611-the-superpower-police-now-use-to-tackle-crime

Are You a Super Recognizer? Test Tells If You’re One of Elite Few Who Never Forgets a Face

Korin Miller

https://www.yahoo.com/health/are-you-a-super-recognizer-test-tells-if-youre-121678964207.html

This Fun Memory Quiz Will Tell You If You Are a ‘Super Recognizer’

Christina Oehler

http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/wellness/a50913/this-fun-memory-quiz-will-tell-you-if-you-super-recognizer/

Testa dig: Hur bra är du på att känna igen ansikten?
Fredrik Claesson

http://pcforalla.idg.se/2.1054/1.631410/kan-du-identifiera-ansiktet

Are YOU a ‘super recogniser’? Take the test to see if you are one of an elite group of people who never forget a face

Ellie Zolfagharifard

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3125173/Are-super-recogniser-test-one-elite-group-people-rarely-forgets-face.html#ixzz3dKS4frpz

Could you be a super-recogniser? (test)

University of Greenwich

 

https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_e3xDuCccGAdgbfT

 

Randomly finding studies that have un-noted super-recognizers in them

Don’t assume that if face memory researchers find that they have study subjects who get scores typical of super-recognizers that they will note this fact in the paper or will interpret the data to inquire about the characteristics of super-recognizers. In random internet clicking I keep coming across studies that have super-recognizers in them, and which also appear to have no comment in them about this finding.

Joshua M. Davis, Elinor McKone, Hugh Dennett, Kirsty B. O’Connor, Richard O’Kearney and Romina Palermo Individual Differences in the Ability to Recognise Facial Identity Are Associated with Social Anxiety. PLOS One. Published: December 14, 2011. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028800. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028800

There are two subjects in this study who got scores in the super-recognizer range (71-72 in the short form of the Cambridge Face Memory Test) and three who were pretty darned close with scores of 70, and there were also eleven subjects who scored in the prosopagnosia range of 42 or less in the CFMT short form.

The study measured social anxiety and other things, so what were the findings in relation to the supers and social anxiety? From what I’ve read the cut-off point for social phobia is 36 or more on the SIAS, and none of the supers were anywhere near that, but that is also true for the majority of the subjects who got face memory scores in the prosopagnosia range. Plenty of study subjects got SIAS scores in the social phobia range, but only one of them also had a CFMT score in the prosopagnosia range. Social phobia clearly isn’t explained by issues in face recognition. The study did find a weak correlation between poorer face memory and social anxiety, but I’m surprised that a stronger positive relationship was not found because I think face memory must be pretty important in social functioning. I offer the Dunning-Kruger Effect as an explanation for the weakness of the correlation found. People who don’t know often don’t know what they don’t know and maybe even don’t know that they don’t know. Ignorance is bliss, so they say, and I see evidence of it all around me every day.

In my opinion, the alternative explanation offered to explain the slight correlation between social anxiety and poorer face recognition, that social anxiety could cause the development of poorer face recognition ability, seems unlikely. Kids who are scared of other kids would surely want to keep tabs on who is who, because such kids are likely to be bully-magnets, and certainly not all kids are bullies. I would think in such a situation, a child would have great personal interest in telling the difference between bullies, allies and the general mob, and face memory would seem to be the best tool for this task. That’s just a theory, and often sensible-sounding theories are totally counter to reality, so more research is definitely desirable on this question.

Here’s another study that has super-recognizers in it, but which doesn’t specifically mention or discuss super-recognizers or superrecognition:

http://www.pnas.org/content/107/11/5238.full

[this article to be completed later]

They are developing tests for recruiting super-recognizers into the police in the UK, but don’t ask me what’s happening here

Phillips, Mark London police using crime-fighting “super recognizers” official. CBS News, Dailymotion. Publications date November 12th 2013. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x173o5e_london-police-using-crime-fighting-super-recognizers_news

This is an American report from CBS News published in November 2013 on the use of super-recognizers in London policing. Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville explains how inadequate computer facial recognition was found to be compared with results from police supers. PC Gary Collins and researcher Dr Josh Davis are also interviewed, and super-recognizer police doing identification work are shown. It is revealed that tests are being developed for recruiting super-recognizers into a police force in London. My guess is that this would mean recruiting supers into the police force because they are supers, in addition to their existing policy of finding and utilizing the many supers that they already have serving in this large police force.

Barone, Tayissa Council’s eyes guide long arm of the law. West Australian. September 7th-8th 3013, p.20-21 news.

“The Met” continue to be leaders in the use of human facial super-recognition in policing, but what is happening here in Western Australia with regard to human face recognition and CCTV and policing? As far as I can tell, not a lot. As far as I know there is no testing of any kind of face recognition or face memory ability in police recruitment, and I’ve not read anything about use of supers in any Australian police force. In September 2013 the Weekend West had an article in it about operators at the City of Perth’s surveillance centre working with and beside members of the WA Police to keep things under control in the city streets. The journalist wrote about the tens of millions of dollars that the City of Perth has spent on their CCTV camera network, the “unique” skill set of the surveillance centre operators, their intuitive understanding of body language, their eye for detail, multitasking ability, the keen competition for their jobs and some rigorous battery of testing in which only one out of 160 applicants met the required standard, but not a single mention of face recognition or visual memory.

Western Australia Police Service reduces crime through intelligence-led policing with ABM. ABM United Kingdom Limited. 2012. http://www.abmsoftware.com/en-GB/products/82-uk/news/case-studies/139-western-australia-police-service-reduces-crime-through-intelligence-led-policing-with-abm.html

http://www.mediaforensics.com.au/security-monitoring-centres/

A webpage of a software company ABM boasts that it provides the WA Police with facial recognition technology for use on photos and other static images of offenders, which will probably impress the “boys who love toys” technophile set, but it fails to impress me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there appears to be good evidence that the most able humans can vastly out-perform contemporary facial recognition technology, and secondly, the identification of people from still images of faces or entire bodies is inherently limited. It does not use the wealth of information that one can glean from looking at a moving image. Faces are unique and so are the ways that people move. A moving image is essentially richer and more complete and more natural than looking at a single still image. Study of interviews of super-recognizers yields many clues that supers recognize people, not images and not just faces. Supers can identify people from photos, but it seems likely that the memorization process works best if it is based on watching people, not looking at photos. I am not aware of any face recognition technology that works off moving images, but that might just be a mark of my ignorance. I remain skeptical.

The idea that technology must beat humans in face recognition is a popular one, I think based on some major misconceptions about human psychology and artificial intelligence. I think a lot of people assume that if tasks like visual identification or walking or recognizing voices are effortless for humans then they must be even more easy for a computer system to perform. This shows an ignorance of the millions of years of biological evolution that gave humans and even the most humble animals sensory perception, and the sensory and movement systems of muscles and nerves that give rise to the power of voluntary movement. These processes involve brains as much as they involve sensory organs and muscles. The fact that we are able to do these things without thinking much about them is no indication at all that they are simple. It is just an indication that some of the really clever tasks in cognition are too complex and important to be exposed to the interference of conscious thinking. Attempting to recapitulate the kind of design complexity that is found in biological sensory perception and biological movement with technology and computers would surely keep a designer occupied for a very long time. Good luck with that.

Still photos may not be the same as moving images (or in-person viewing) for face and person recognition

Police super-recognizer Idris Bada quoted:

“I’ve seen a blurry image in infrared  and I knew who it was straight away,” he says. “The size of his head, his  posture, the way he walks. We all have our signature moves. That’s when the  memory banks click in.”

from

Storr, Will Human image banks: meet the Met’s ‘Super recognisers’. Telegraph. March 26th 2013.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9942759/Human-image-banks-meet-the-Mets-Super-recognisers.html

Super-recognition researcher Josh P. Davis quoted:

“Writing in an upcoming issue of Psychologist, the scientists say super recognizers may be extra efficient at extracting information about a face, especially if viewed in action. Davis says that previous studies have shown that people can extract more information about a face if it’s moving, as opposed to looking at a still image. But he says the police officer super recognizers seem to have a disproportionate advantage over others for gleaning information about faces as they scan video images or watch people in motion.”

from

Gaidos, Susan Familiar faces. Science News.  Web edition August 23rd 2013, Print edition September 7th 2013. Volume 184 Number 5 p.16. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/352687/description/Familiar_faces

Short super-recognizer test here!

UPDATE DECEMBER 2013 – this thing appears to be no longer going.

This test is from the superrecognition researcher Dr Josh Davis of the University of Greenwich. You can do the test just out of interest, but if your score suggests you could be a super-recognizer, you can also volunteer your details to possibly be the subject of research. This is a very brief test. To be honest, I’m not convinced this test is long enough or hard enough to really sort the supers from the normals with good ability. Oddly, there is no automatic scoring in the test and you need to note your own score. I didn’t notice getting any wrong, so I guess I must have got a perfect score. I found that for most of the test arrays of faces I didn’t need to look at all of the faces that one could choose from, because I spotted the familiar face quickly, and felt sure of my fast and first choice of face. Sometimes I looked at most of the faces, just to be sure, but it seemed to be a bit redundant and irrational. Me getting a perfect score in this test is no surprise, as I got a perfect score in the short CFMT and the Famous Faces tests, and a super-recognizer level score in the long form of the CFMT when tested at a WA university. I’d still recommend the CFMT as the gold standard in face memory testing, but I don’t think that test is easy to access any more. Why not try this one? It will cost you only 3 minutes of your life.

https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9ZVm6G3McDma37D

A spate of science news and newspaper stories about super-recognizers

The Psychologist (sadly behind paywall) – http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=26&editionID=231&ArticleID=2347

Associated Press / Canada.com – http://www.canada.com/health/Dont+know+London+polices+super+recognizers+have+before+answer/8965531/story.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+canwest%2FF67+(canada.com+Body+and+Health)

Science News – http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/352687/description/Familiar_faces

The Times of India – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/London-police-use-super-recognizers-to-fight-crime/articleshow/23191190.cms

Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435043/Scotland-Yards-elite-squad-200-super-recognisers-forget-face.html

Express – http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/426014/Police-officers-superhuman-ability-to-recognise-faces-is-being-used-to-fight-crime

CBS News – http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57605067/london-police-using-200-super-recognizers-what-makes-them-super/

The Verge – http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/27/4778376/super-recognizers-are-scotland-yards-new-secret-weapon

The Windsor Star – http://www.windsorstar.com/know+London+police+squad+elite+super+recognizers+concept/8971850/story.html

MinnPost – http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2013/08/super-recognizers-people-who-never-forget-face

Daily Herald – http://www.heraldextra.com/lifestyles/remembering-faces/article_f8985c6e-9a33-577e-9748-81799788db80.html

Monterey Herald – http://www.montereyherald.com/news/ci_24188786/10-things-know-friday-sept-27

Ad Hoc News – http://www.ad-hoc-news.de/about-200-london-police-officers-have-been-recruited-for-an–/de/News/32088649

WNAX – http://wnax.com/news/10-for-today-friday-sept-27/

But will it ever catch on in Australia? Nah!

The One Show from April this year – story about super-recognizers

The ubiquitous Dr Michael Mosley interviews super-recognizer policeman Gary Collins and super-recognition researcher Dr Josh Davis. Thank you Dr Davis, thank you BBC 1 Scotland and thank you YouTube.

Super-recognisers on The One Show (BBC1, 7PM), from 9th April 2013. http://youtu.be/PuPfQ8UZTGQ

YouTube channel of Dr Josh P. Davis:  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3rErlc6ayyZb1ROLvPQPtA?feature=watch