Facial Cognition

Fitness trackers as national security risks; facial recognition for good; and more.


  • Brave new world: Facial recognition software tied to 200 million surveillance cameras plus intensive tracking of people’s internet use: that’s China today, as Paul Mozur reports for The New York Times. Worth noting—even if the tech isn’t 100% accurate or pervasive, it can instill mass obedience.

  • According to the New York Times’s Jack Nicas, fake accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter abound for people who are celebrities. And Nicas notes, back in April, Facebook quietly increased its own estimate of fake accounts on the site from 60 million to 80 million.

  • According to the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Twitter is stamping out fake accounts at a newly vigorous pace of more than one million a day.

  • Here’s a more pro-social way to use facial recognition technology: to deliver hard data on gender disparities in film, courtesy of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media along with some machine learning scientists.

  • Oscar 2.0: Scriptbook claims its artificial intelligence powered analysis of movie scripts can tell a user how the movie will be rated, what its target audience will be (included gender and race) and predicts its earnings at the box office, Peter Caranicas reports for Variety.

  • Remember how Strava exposed the exercise habits of users in sensitive locations like secret military bases? Now researchers with Bellingcat and De Correspondent have found the same issue with the fitness app Polar, as Foeke Postma reports. “With only a few clicks, a high-ranking officer of an airbase known to host nuclear weapons can be found jogging across the compound in the morning,” he writes.

  • Tech and politics: Behavioral scientist Caroline O shows how the so-called #WalkAway movement of former Democrats claiming to be Trump supporters, which started in May, is astroturf from Twitter bots.

  • Life in Facebookistan: How the company’s rapid rise in Myanmar fueled chaos and confusion, as reported by Timothy McLaughlin for Wired.

  • In Argentina, tens of thousands of people dealing with soaring inflation and high unemployment are joining barter clubs on Facebook to trade used goods with each other, Nicolas Misculin reports for Reuters.

  • Dark humor department: Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union, by roboticist Antony Troynikov.

  • If you’ve ever written a grant proposal, this, by Vu Le, will make you laugh out loud.