The story explores our incredible aptitude for distinguishing one visage from another by focusing on each punim’s peculiarities and how the mercilessly honest art of caricature — and its quirky practitioners — may hold the key to a post 9-11 Holy Grail: endowing computers with the ability to spot a terrorist. An excerpt:
Given current technology, the prospects for picking out future Mohamed Attas in a crowd are hardly brighter than they were on 9/11. In 2007, recognition programs tested by the German federal police couldn’t identify eight of 10 suspects. Just this February, a couple that accidentally swapped passports at the airport in Manchester, England, sailed through electronic gates that were supposed to match their faces to file photos.
All this leads science to a funny question. What if, to secure our airports and national landmarks, we need to learn more about caricature? After all, it’s the skill of the caricaturist—the uncanny ability to quickly distill faces down to their most salient features—that our computers most desperately need to acquire. Better cameras and faster computers won’t be enough. To pick terrorists out of a crowd, our bots might need to go to art school—or at least spend some time at the local amusement park.
Read more here: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/07/ff_caricature/all/