Sometimes You Just Gotta

Photo by cottonbro on

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been taking a self-paced online machine learning class in my abundant, nay even copious, free time. Not that I’m contemplating a career change or anything. I’m just interested in AI and want to have a better understanding of what it is and isn’t, what it can and cannot (yet) do.

The course has been fascinating and a little scary at times, both because of the subject and my rusty coding skills. But the last lesson was a bit of a mental hotfoot for an entirely different reason. We’ve moved into facial recognition tools to (you guessed it) identify people from photographs and video. To identify from video we had to use ourselves as test subjects, which involved using a webcam to take a selfie video and teaching my computer to recognize me and draw a rectangle around my face in real time to prove it. Weird but no more than that.

But then….

Next task was using a set of photographs of known persons to train the system to recognize them, then compare those to a series of unknown (as in unidentified) pictures. Pretty straightforward by comparison, with just one stumbler: to avoid copyright and privacy issues, we were using pictures of politicians and public figures. Once the figure(s) in the pictures were identified, we had the system display them onscreen with a rectangle around their faces and their name.

I think you can see where this is heading.

While there are many political figures I disagree with strongly, there is one I cannot even look at without throwing up in my throat a little. I will neither confirm nor deny the identity of this person, but needless to say, they were in there. The program found them, and displayed them as ordered with the aforementioned rectangle and name.

Funny thing about the rectangle command, though. Among the parameters there is one to control the line thickness. 1 for thin, 2 for thicker, etc. However, using -1 as the parameter draws a completely solid rectangle, obscuring the face entirely.

Acid reflux is bad on your throat, after all. It’s not politics, it’s a health issue.