Tag Archives: Super-recognizers and the Law

Test and super-recognizer stuff at website of SBS TV show Insight

I’m not 100% sure why these items are at the Insight website as it does not appear that the topic of supers was covered in the last episode, but possibly the theme of crime eyewitnesses will be continued in a second part tomorrow. Might be worth a look at the show and the website too if you’re interested in superrecognition, face memory and forensic eyewitness evidence. I’m glad that Insight are covering the topic of supers in eyewitness testimony to some degree, because it appears that in the US and Australia there has been for quite a few years been a quite strident and ideological movement that has critiqued the value of eyewitness testimony as legal evidence, as an excessive reaction to countless unsound convictions based on misunderstandings, over-confidence and outright abuse of procedures in relation to the use of eyewitness testimony in court cases. These excessive reactions from psychology researchers have simply argued against the value of eyewitness testimony, in ignorance of the fact that there is a large spectrum of ability in face memory, and supers can be valuable in crime investigation and potentially in testimony. If you’ve ever tried to discuss super-recognizers and their value in law enforcement with a member of this “memory is fallible” movement in cognitive psychology, it’s about as pointless as talking to a wall. Activism and science don’t work well together.
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight

 

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“Are you available to work in London and the Home Counties?”

Super Recognisers International

 

Supers are the cover story in this month’s Reader’s Digest Australia

http://www.readersdigest.com.au/magazine/The-Rise-of-the-Super-Recognisers.asp

 

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.

Another fascinating article about the important talents of supers

Robertson, David James (2016) Could super recognisers be the latest weapon in the war on terror? The Conversation. March 25th 2016.

https://theconversation.com/could-super-recognisers-be-the-latest-weapon-in-the-war-on-terror-56772

And don’t forget to check out the comments, one identifying a super-recognizer character in detective story literature.

 

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!