Retrospective Facial Recognition

Yakushima: pixelated porn still

For any given culture what are the drivers and mechanisms for obscuring / censoring portions of content? How will the recording and pixellation of pornography and/or other societal taboo subjects change over time?

This undoctored still photographed of a television showing a Japanese porn movie includes pixellated public hair. (For those of you wondering why Japan used to pixellate pubic hair read this).

As we amble frame by frame into the future perfect expect to see an increasing number of faces pixellated out of any context where recognition will create friction – starting with home shot gonzo porn movies. Facial recognition is steadily improving to the extent that it will be relatively easy to automatically match the face of the gonzo-porn star to their online presence. “It’s just a bit of fun, nobody will know” is not a viable strategy and as many will soon discover, it never has been.

In the same way that Google book scanning has pushed a re-examination of books, and the mainstreaming of DNA is testing is challenging our notion of ‘family norms’ automatic, wholesale facial recognition will, in many ways be a retrospective technology in that it can be applied to anything that has been published/recorded before.

There are an awful lot of personal histories, porn-star or otherwise, that are going to be re-written.

Yakushima: porn still

Final thought for today: given the ease with which image recognition algorithms can identify nude human bodies, the photo on this post has probably marked Future Perfect as being a site that contains pornographic material.

C’est la vie.