What? You never heard of Faception? It’s amazing!
Faception is first-to-technology and first-to-market with proprietary computer vision and machine learning technology for profiling people and revealing their personality based only on their facial image.
Faception can analyze faces from video streams (recorded and live), cameras, or online/offline databases, encode the faces in proprietary image descriptors and match an individual with various personality traits and types with a high level of accuracy. We develop proprietary classifiers, each describing a certain personality type or trait such as an Extrovert, a person with High IQ, Professional Poker Player or a Terrorist. Ultimately, we can score facial images on a set of classifiers and provide our clients with a better understanding of their customers, the people in front of them or in front of their cameras.
In short, they claim to be able to take a picture of you, and in a fraction of a second, in the absence of any other information, be able to determine your personality. It’s done with computers, so you know you can trust it.
But, you know, we have these meat computers in our heads that have been trained through millions of years of evolution and throughout our development to be extraordinarily sensitive to faces. We can respond to an eyebrow that lifts a fraction of a millimeter, a lip that curls just so, a pupil that dilates by a hairs-width. We are really, really good at reading emotion and incredibly subtle social cues from facial expressions. There are autistic individuals who have more difficulty than most at picking up on those cues, but I suspect they’re far, far better at it than any computer program.
But even with this amazing sensitivity, do you really think you could look at a snapshot and accurately judge whether someone is a poker player or a terrorist? Don’t you suspect you’d get very different perspectives on the person’s personality if the snapshot were taken at a party, vs. taken at a funeral? Have you ever discovered that your first impression of someone, on the basis of their appearance, proves to be totally wrong once you get to know them better? Just on the face of it, this is an absurd claim they are making.
We haven’t even gotten to the actual “science” that they claim supports their thesis.
The face can be used to predict a person’s personality and behavior.
This claim relies on a combination of two known research observations
OK. They’ve got two justifications. Here’s the first. The second isn’t going to get any better.
1. According to Social and Life Science research personalities are affected by genes.
In fact genes play a greater role in determining key personality traits like social skills and learning ability than the way we are brought up by our parents, researchers claimed.
Researchers from Edinburgh University studied more than 800 sets of identical and non-identical twins to learn whether genetics or upbringing has a greater effect on how successful people are in life. Writing in the Journal of Personality, the researchers found that identical twins were twice as likely as non-identical twins to share the same personality traits, suggesting that their DNA was having the greatest impact.
There’s an obvious problem with this argument: identical twins don’t have identical personalities. I’ve known a few identical twins, and it’s true that it may be hard to tell them apart visually, but try talking to them. They’re different people. Shocking, I know. Also, I think every twin has heard the joking question about which one is the evil twin, which the good twin (and is tired of it). How does software that only examines the most superficial aspects of a person fail to recognize this fundamental issue?
And, oh Jesu, they bring up that nonsense about measure the relative roles of genetics or upbringing. It doesn’t work that way! Both are interdependent. Genes will be expressed differently depending on the environment. Anyone who brings up nature/nurture as if they are competing hypotheses should be kicked to the curb and ignored.
But now watch the magnificent flying leap they have to make to argue that personality and facial features are linked.
2. Our face is a reflection of our DNA
Researchers have identified five of the genes that shape a person’s face. Researchers previously knew that genetics played a large role in determining face shape, since identical twins share DNA. However, little was known about exactly which genes are involved. Three genes were thought to have roles in the arrangement of facial features, and the new research confirmed their involvement.
There are more than 3 or 5 genes involved in face development. Facial structure, like all complex traits, is almost certainly omnigenic. In point of fact, though, claiming that only a small number of genes affect face shape effectively contradicts their own argument, because that implies that these genes could do their job in morphology while another, completely different set of genes work to generate personality. Do these guys even understand what they’re talking about?
Working on mice, researchers have identified thousands of small regions of DNA that influence the way facial features develop. The researchers said that although the work was carried out on animals, the human face was likely to develop in the same way. In fact, It’s already possible to make some inferences about the appearance of crime suspects from their DNA alone.
Let it be stipulated that genes play a role in morphology, and that individuals who are genetically identical will develop very similar facial features. This is not a point of contention. The question is whether there is a correlation between physiognomy and personality. Do people with the same shape of nose have similar political stances, for instance? Is there a connection between bushy eyebrows and charitable giving? Is ear shape linked to gambling skill? These are the questions they need to answer.
They claim on their “classifers” page that this is the face of a pedophile, for instance. I think that looks like about half the white dudebros who work in tech. Are you comfortable with that suggestion? Because I’m not.
It does make me wonder if they’ve run their own photos through the machine, and whether the software has been optimized to weed out all the non-flattering descriptors. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first pass of the alpha version classified everyone as “asshole”, and they worked assiduously so it would instead classify them as “genius”.
But where is the evidence that face and personality are linked in a predictable way? Here we go.
And indeed, researchers were able to demonstrate that “Internal facial features are signals of personality and health. While these type of affirmations are quite recent, in Chinese history, there have been people that have studied the “mapping of the face” for thousands of years.
Also, the epigenetics phenomena has recently demonstrated, in academia researches and March 31th 2017 Science magazine.
Vague reference, no specific citation.
Vague reference to Chinese tradition.
Handwavy mention of epigenetics buzzword.
This is bad stuff. It’s just more hocus-pocus, like astrology or phrenology or iridology or tea-leaf reading or Myers-Briggs tests or any of a thousand gimmicks that have been used to make false claims throughout history. This Faception boondoggle is going to be no more effective at detecting terrorists than it would be at ferretting out witches.
Worse, it just genetic determinism coupled to racism as an excuse. Cesare Lombroso lives! It does make one wonder if his pickled head doesn’t actually dictate racist pseudoscience to bad writers and software authors.