Tag Archives: Racial Characteristics

Interesting questions and serious concerns

Revell, Timothy Concerns as face recognition tech used to ‘identify’ criminals. New Scientist. December 1st 2016.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2114900-concerns-as-face-recognition-tech-used-to-identify-criminals/

Garvie, Clare, Bedoya, Alvaro and Frankle, Jonathan The perpetual line-up: unregulated police face recognition in America. Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law. OCTOBER 18th 2016.

https://www.perpetuallineup.org/

Is there really a criminal face? I don’t think the research discussed in the New Scientist article settles the debate by any means, but at least the controversial idea is opened up for investigation. If there is one my guess is that it is a look that coincides with the Australian face (every race and nation has a distinctive averaged facial type, apparently). European colonisation of Australia began as a penal colony and thus a good part of the white genetics of Australians arrived in this country through people identified as criminals. My best guess is that the crim face has a large straight nose, thin lips and puffy, small eyes. I’d guess this unattractive face could in itself be a social and economic disadvantage, or could be symptomatic of a phenotype that includes some degree of intellectual impairment. I think if there is a crim face it might have little to do with personality but a lot to do with disadvantage, but this is all speculation.

I think it is worth noting that claims made in the print version of this article about supposed advantages of AI over humans in face recognition skills such as identifying age, gender, ethnicity and tiredness by looking at faces presumably only apply to humans of average face recognition ability who maybe are not as exhaustively trained in these skills as the AI systems have been. One cannot compare human ability with AI in face recognition until appropriately trained super-recognizers (representing the top end of human ability) have been pitted against machines. I’m guessing this hasn’t been done.

Perhaps the most important part of this article is right at the end; “…the majority of US police departments using face recognition do little to ensure that the software is accurate.” That certainly is not good enough. Human super-recognizers have abilities that have been proven in scientific testing and also in practice in policing in the UK. Why do so many people persist in the assumption that machines must be better than humans in visual processing, in the face of an abundance of evidence? The link in the New Scientist article to the website of the researchers who have criticized the use of face recognition technology in law enforcement in the United States of America is worth a look for sure.

The trouble with police, large photograph databases and face recognition technology

Hodson, Hal Police mass face recognition in the US will net innocent people. New Scientist. October 20th 2016.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2109887-police-mass-face-recognition-in-the-us-will-net-innocent-people/

United States Government Accountability Office Face Recognition Technology: FBI Should Better Ensure Privacy and Accuracy. May 2016.

http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/677098.pdf

Had you assumed that hiring human super-recognizers to perform face recognition tasks would be less effective, less accurate and more open to bias than using technology? Think again.

Influence of cross-race effect and anxiety on face recognition in Australian study

A pity this science news article does not include a link to the study, as the results sound interesting.

I wonder how a super-recognizer might have fared as a study subject in this study? Would supers have the self-confidence to avoid the impairment in performance that comes with anxiety, while not being so over-confident that they fail to take the extra care to see through racial bias while memorizing and recalling foreign faces? Are metacognitive skills an element of super-recognition? Could this be a clue to why face memory is a cognitive ability that peaks in performance at a remarkably late age in human development? (Please remember, readers in academia, that if you use without acknowledgement original ideas that you have read at this blog, I will not be pleased at all.)

Payne, Rob Anxiety increases error, but not bias, in facial recognition. Science Network. November 20th 2015.

http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/social-science/item/3909-anxiety-increases-error-but-not-bias-in-facial-recognition

 

The Scottish independence referendum has put some new faces on my TV screen

I’m not sure if ever seen the face of Alex Salmond on TV before, because while his face does look very familiar, that could be because he is a bit of a doppleganger of Perth, Western Australia’s most famous Scotsman, Max Kay.

The face of Lesley Riddoch is another one that isn’t usually featured in Australian TV screens. She lives in Perth, but not our Perth, the other Perth. She is a commentator and a writer and she has expressed support for ‘yes’ case in the referendum, but being a super-recognizer I couldn’t help but be fascinated by her face. To my eye her face is so much the same face and personality as a woman I have known well in the past, except for her jawline and neck, which display definite differences. Riddoch’s lively mind and the spark of intelligence in her eyes are there for all to observe, and I swear are in some non-trivial way the same those of the person from my past, who clearly inherited her long, flat face and sense of humour from her British parent.

More thoughts on Somerton Man

I’ve written about this mysterious Australian crime case before at this blog, and I’ve just started watching an online video of Sunday’s 60 Minutes story about this case, and I’ve got some observations about the appearance of the body shown in photos in the 60 Minutes (Australia) story.

He did have odd-looking ears and I don’t doubt the idea that this trait would be genetic and could be traced in a descendant, as I’ve read somewhere. The ears could certainly be useful for identification of the body.

I don’t know if he was a spy for the Ruskies back in the Cold War era, but I doubt that he was of Russian stock. I feel that he had a very Australian-looking face. I feel that it is the face typical of a race of people founded mostly by British convicts. He’s got that street-smart look, that Aussie look, that normal look. I don’t feel that he looks like a foreigner.

Lastly, I wouldn’t speculate one way or another whether the potential grand-daughter of Somerton Man is actually his descendant, based on their ears and faces, except that I think it is possible.

http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8759245

Not sure how this interesting new study relates to prosopagnosia

Holistic Processing for Other-Race Faces in Chinese Participants Occurs for Upright but Not Inverted Faces.

Kate CrookesSimone Favelle, and William G. Hayward

Frontiers in Psychology. 2013; 4: 29. Published online 2013 January 31. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00029 PMCID: PMC3560099

“… despite showing strong holistic processing for other-race faces, Asian participants do show an other-race effect in memory (e.g., Asian participants show better memory for Asian than Caucasian faces).”

So what is the relationship between holistic processing and face memory?

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02643290903343149?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dpubmed

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19921582

http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/social-science/item/2004-weaker-holistic-processing-explains-why-caucasians-struggle-to-tell-asian-faces-apart.html

Ashton Foley’s mugshots – a minor mystery

A collection of old mugshots of Ashton Foley from her misadventures in the USA were published in Saturday’s West. I’m still left wondering why in one of them her skin looks markedly darker and the overall effect in that shot was of an African-American look, while I didn’t get that impression from the other photos, neither from a fairly recent Australian interview video of Foley that can be seen on the internet. One clue is that the brown-skinned mugshot was taken not long after she had given birth to twins. I considered whether melasma, or the “mask of pregnancy” might have been the cause of her darker skin, but from what I’ve read about it. it manifests as brown blotches, not an overall darker complexion. Perhaps she just got a tan. What I find interesting is how a slight change of skin tone changed the way I would describe her race. I think this shows how much of a red herring eyewitness categorizations of race can be, if they can be altered by small changes in the skin tone of individuals.

Obama’s face no less fascinating

President Obama has been sworn in for the second time, and he continues to make Washington DC a more attractive place than it would otherwise have been. He is surely too pretty for politics. I never fail to be amazed, whenever I see Obama’s winning smile, how much it looks like Nelson Mandela’s winning smile, so perhaps that proves there is some precedent of good looks in politics. I also can’t help but be drawn to noticing the colours in his facial features, I’m not sure exactly why. People of mixed race like Mr Obama often have aspects of their facial appearance that catch the eye because they violate unconscious expectations about the typical appearance of the races. European features with a dark skin or vice versa will baffle the mind for a moment. Maybe this is why I’m often left with the impression that Obama’s face lacks warm colours despite his share of African melanin. Such a warm smile on a face that has so much gray in it! My visual cortex never quite knows what to make of this famous face. I’m a little suspicious of Obama’s rich brown glow at today’s stirring inauguration speech. I hope I don’t give the impression of being a racist who can’t get over a dark-skinned president. I think it could be the darker colouration around Obama’s mouth and eyes which throws my face processing hardware into a minor spin, because when I look at Obama I can’t help thinking about those Indian people who naturally have “dark rings” around their eyes and dark lips (I once had a strikingly beautiful lady of this type as a co-worker), or the most fascinating Wodaabe people of various countries in Africa. They are a physically beautiful ethnic group with some unusual customs, such as the young men wearing make-up and fancy costumes while courting. Their dark make-up around their eyes and mouth emphasizes the whiteness of their eyes and teeth. I have also seen a photo in which lines down the middle of the faces in pale make-up possibly emphasize the symmetry of the men’s faces. Wodaabe men on display are quite a spectacle, and an unforgettable sight. An evolutionary psychologist might identify the display of facial symmetry and whiteness in eyes and teeth from contrasting natural darker skin colouration and also in cultural displays using dark eye and lip make-up as displays of genetic fitness and health which are adaptive. Americans have a more succinct way of describing this phenomenon: “eye candy”.

Wodaabe ethnic group http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wodaabe&oldid=513464314

Is there an Australian face?

I think there is something very Australian about the face of the former footy player and Australian celebrity of the 1980s, Mark “Jacko” Jackson. While Mr Jackson’s very manly jawline makes me wonder about growth hormone levels, his face also has some characteristics which I tend to associate with working-class Australians who are a bit aesthetically-challenged in the facial region. Maybe it is just an odd idea of mine, but I feel that if I were in a foreign country populated with people of generally the same caucasian race as Australians, and I saw a cheerful face in the crowd that has thin lips, a clumsily large but not hooked nose, and eyes that are the opposite of big and pretty and seem to be obscured by fleshy lids, while not being Asian eyes, I think I’d feel that I was looking at another Australian, more likely from one of the eastern states than from WA. Many of the first European people to establish a British colony in Australia were convicts. If there is indeed a generic Australian face, discernable from a generic English face or a generic American face, I doubt that it is a pretty face, but I feel that it might be a friendly face.

I’m an Individual by Mark Jackson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0Q5JFHrGNk&feature=share&list=LPtMwdywLz3dM