Facebook’s new AI research group reports a major improvement in face-processing software.
Asked whether two unfamiliar photos of faces show the same person, a human being will get it right 97.53 percent of the time. New software developed by researchers at Facebook can score 97.25 percent on the same challenge, regardless of variations in lighting or whether the person in the picture is directly facing the camera.
That’s a significant advance over previous face-matching software, and it demonstrates the power of a new approach to artificial intelligence known as deep learning, which Facebook and its competitors have bet heavily on in the past year (see “Deep Learning”). This area of AI involves software that uses networks of simulated neurons to learn to recognize patterns in large amounts of data.
“You normally don’t see that sort of improvement,” says Yaniv Taigman, a member of Facebook’s AI team, a research group created last year to explore how deep learning might help the company (see “Facebook Launches Advanced AI Effort”). “We closely approach human performance,” says Taigman of the new software. He notes that the error rate has been reduced by more than a quarter relative to earlier software that can take on the same task.
Facebook’s new software, known as DeepFace, performs what researchers call facial verification (it recognizes that two images show the same face), not facial recognition (putting a name to a face). But some of the underlying techniques could be applied to that problem, says Taigman, and might therefore improve Facebook’s accuracy at suggesting whom users should tag in a newly uploaded photo.
However, DeepFace remains purely a research project for now. Facebookreleased a research paper on the project last week, and the researchers will present the work at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in June. “We are publishing our results to get feedback from the research community,” says Taigman, who developed DeepFace along with Facebook colleagues Ming Yang and Marc’Aurelio Ranzato and Tel Aviv University professor Lior Wolf.
Written By: Tom Simonite
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