Seeing faces in the clouds, thanks to facial recognition software

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An observer looks at a compilation image of clouds marked by facial recognition software as looking like human faces. Source: Shinseungback Kimyonghun

In his TED Talk, Gavin Pretor-Pinney urges us to look to the skies and appreciate the incredible shapes Gavin Pretor-Pinney: Cloudy with a chance of joy Gavin Pretor-Pinney: Cloudy with a chance of joy a heart, fish or a hand waving goodbye — that can be spotted (or imagined) in clouds.

But what if you want to take your cloud-spotting game to the next level? The technology and art collective Shinseungback Kimyonghun, based in Seoul, can help. The group’s recent work analyzes images of clouds using facial-recognition software, tracking and recording the moments when clouds look fleetingly like human faces. The project, called Cloud Face, is “a collection of cloud images that are recognized by a face-detection algorithm.” You can see it at work on the collective’s website »

We think this project would be of interest to another TEDGlobal 2013 speaker — Alessandro Acquisti. In Edinburgh, Acquisti warned us that facial-recognition software is getting better and better, with some dismaying implications for our privacy. Soon, he suggests in his talk, an anonymous photo of your face could be easily linked to your name … and from there to your Facebook account. Watch for Acquisti’s talk to post this fall. For now, though, just enjoy being a face in the clouds.