An Israeli startup claims to have developed new facial imaging technology which can identify anyone, be it poker players, geniuses, extroverts, terrorists or paedophiles, just by looking at a subject's face. The technology firm claims its facial imaging technology can distinguish an individual's unique character traits, which are unnoticeable to the naked human eye.
Tel Aviv-based Faception has reportedly already signed a contract with US Homeland Security which will involve using the firm's facial recognition software to help identify terrorists. Faception also claims that its software identified nine of the 11 Paris attackers as suspected terrorists, without any previous data or knowledge about their involvement in the event, the Daily Mail reported.
Faception has, so far, developed 15 classifiers which the firm claims can determine personality traits with 80% accuracy. The company's chief executive, Shai Gilboa, said: "We understand the human much better than other humans understand each other. Our personality is determined by our DNA and reflected in our face. It's a kind of signal."
The Israeli firm claims to back up its results and technology by using "social and life science research", citing a study conducted by Edinburgh University that examined the association between personality traits and genetics by studying identical and non-identical twins. However, experts remain cautious and sceptical about the accuracy and effectiveness of the technology.
Faception also showcased its facial imaging software at a recent poker tournament in which it predicted, prior to the start of the event, that four out of 50 amateur players would make it to the finals. Two of the firm's predictions turned out to be accurate, when they went on to be listed among the three finalists in the event.
University of Washington computer science professor, Pedro Domingos, told the Washington Post: "Can I predict that you're an axe murderer by looking at your face and therefore should I arrest you? You can see how this would be controversial."
Princeton University psychology professor, Alexander Todorov, also highlighted the ethical implications of using such methods, which has certain similarities with phrenology, a debunked 19th century pseudoscientific theory that was used to justify old fashioned ideologies that personality could be predicted using genetic characteristics such as skull size.
"The evidence that there is accuracy in these judgements is extremely weak," said Todorov. "Just when we thought that physiognomy ended 100 years ago. Oh, well.