Sci / Tech 

Facebook uses AI to open your eyes in blinking selfies

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The Facebook logo is pictured at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California January 29, 2013

In what appears to be a bid to encourage users to share more content, Facebook might be on the road to developing a form of artificial intelligence that recovers photographs otherwise marred by an accidental blink.

In a research paper published this week, a pair of Facebook engineers describes a new method that uses machine learning to retouch closed eyes in photos.

While there is still no guarantee that Facebook will be introducing such a feature onto its website or apps- the method is only at the research stage at present- it does seem like a strong possibility.


The system uses a machine learning method called a generative adversarial network, or GAN. This is a technique that has proved particularly adept at generating imagery and has already been put to work creating fake celebrities, changing the weather in videos, and even designing clothes. Blinking seems to pose no challenge at all.

Facebook’s software trains on pictures of the target with their eyes open, collecting data on their eye shape and colour, then applying it to photos of when they are blinking.

The process is referred to as ‘in-painting’, and despite struggling to edit glasses, long fringes, and faces at extreme angles manages to otherwise create incredibly realistic counterfeits.

There is no doubt that AI tweaks like this are only going to become more common in future. Software companies such as Adobe and Pixelmator are already working on machine learning-powered features that allow even amateurs to edit images without having any real technical skill.

This technology will soon allow us to not only make small changes to pictures and videos but generate completely new content.

This, of course, raises a number of ethical concerns as it becomes easier for anyone to fake visual evidence. After all, the company banners on the agenda of authentic expression in every sense, so whether it will fully give people AI tools to change their appearance, still remains to be seen. Editing out a blink may seem pretty harmless, but it is the precedent that might be problematic.

This article originally appeared on The Verge.


Ref:  The Express Tribune

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