As we have long predicted, Google is starting to roll out facial recognition technology.
They obviously don’t want to hype its deployment. Instead, they’re tucking it into something larger, apparently in the hopes it won’t draw much of an outcry.
The “something larger” is a new suite of photo management tools for Google Plus, the Monster of Mountain View’s social network, which promise to automate the process of choosing selects. (Selects are photography-speak for “pictures I want to keep and share”).
The automatic photo selection is done by calling upon Google’s knowledge of the elements that make up a visually pleasing picture, coupled with facial recognition technology and a vast database that helps tie together the relationships of people appearing in a photo. Google says its computers will recognize the best photos featuring family members or close friends of a person who uploads a bunch of pictures to Plus.
“You have amazing images of the most precious image of your life,” Gundotra told a software developers conference Wednesday as he discussed the additions to Google Plus. “But if we are honest with each other photos are very labor intensive.”
If the photos don’t look quite right, Google is promising to enhance them, taking over a job that typically requires people to buy and master special photo editing software such as Adobe System Inc.’s Photoshop, Apple’s iPhoto or Google’s Picasa. Computer-controlled editing tools will automatically remove red eyes, soften skin tones, sharpen colors and adjust contrast.
In an effort to get more photos onto the Plus network, Google is offering to back up all pictures taken on a mobile device, as soon as they’re snapped. To accommodate the increased volume, Google Plus will now provide each accountholder with up to 15 gigabytes of storage for full-resolution photos.
What’s wrong with photos being labor intensive? Isn’t part of the joy of photography going through photos? It seems like Google wants to automate and algorimithize everything it possibly can. The allure is that the computers will do the work. But when the computers do the work, the computers also make the decisions.
This is yet another Google technology that we just don’t need. There is already great free and proprietary software available for managing, organizing, and displaying photos. Google would like to be everyone’s repository for photo storage so it can know more about us.
That’s why Google’s offerings are free. When you use a Google offering, you are the product. Same goes for Facebook. That’s something you should think long and hard about when signing up for any social network. Google and its offerings, meanwhile, are best avoided… period.