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In modern face recognition, the conventional pipeline consists of four stages: detect => align => represent => classify. We revisit both the alignment step and the representation step by employing explicit 3D face modeling in order to apply a piecewise affine transformation, and derive a face representation from a nine-layer deep neural network. This deep network involves more than 120 million parameters using several locally connected layers without weight sharing, rather than the standard convolutional layers. Thus we trained it on the largest facial dataset to-date, an identity labeled dataset of four million facial images belonging to more than 4,000 identities, where each identity has an average of over a thousand samples. The learned representations coupling the accurate model-based alignment with the large facial database generalize remarkably well to faces in unconstrained environments, even with a simple classifier. Our method reaches an accuracy of 97.25% on the Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW) dataset, reducing the error of the current state of the art by more than 25%, closely approaching human-level performance.

DeepFace: Closing the Gap to Human-Level Performance in Face Verification – or, in other words, YIKES. Via O’Reilly Radar.

(See also HuffPo’s coverage, for one.)

The team catapulted a typical policy-planning meeting into the Facebook age with collaborative small-group sessions that examined our biggest successes and challenges and took breaks to socialize and munch on quesadillas and kebabs. And what did we find out? Evolving how we think about public policy in the era of the social web may be as important as evolving public policy itself. Facebook DC believes in the value of pursuing a complicated policy question even if the answers are elusive, because chipping away at the big problems together makes us uniquely able to address new challenges. We believe the true sign of success is more than just a new position paper or a press release. Success is a better, deeper perspective on the role of our platform in the lives of hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

Reflections on Our Inaugural “Po-Hack” – Facebook, 27 June 2011

I’ve been looking at the relatively limited number of policy hackathon examples online, and this is the one I was both least and most surprised to see.

Such intermediaries are effectively gatekeepers are those who enable – and control – our access to that information, and this raises profound issues of principle about the role of intermediary gatekeepers in the structure of free speech […]. At present, such intermediary gatekeepers are all private entities, operating to their own rules, and it is not at all clear how they can be made accountable to their users or the wider public for their private actions. Given the practical, social and legal issues that arise in policing content in such a quasi-public sphere [see below for link], it has been argued that search engines and other intermediaries should have public interest obligations, perhaps by analogy with common law duties that govern public utilities [see below for link]. In particular, free speech norms should not only be about protecting speakers against a heavy-handed state but also about protecting speakers and readers against heavy-handed intermediate gatekeepers. This debate is now being played out online and on the op-ed pages of US news papers.

Such intermediaries are effectively gatekeepers are those who enable – and control – our access to that information, and this raises profound issues of principle about the role of intermediary gatekeepers in the structure of free speech […]. At present, such intermediary gatekeepers are all private entities, operating to their own rules, and it is not at all clear how they can be made accountable to their users or the wider public for their private actions. Given the practical, social and legal issues that arise in policing content in such a quasi-public sphere [see below for link], it has been argued that search engines and other intermediaries should have public interest obligations, perhaps by analogy with common law duties that govern public utilities [see below for link]. In particular, free speech norms should not only be about protecting speakers against a heavy-handed state but also about protecting speakers and readers against heavy-handed intermediate gatekeepers. This debate is now being played out online and on the op-ed pages of US news papers.

Facebook has over ten million user accounts in Australia – it has a presence in the lives and lounge rooms and bedrooms of Australian adults and children as substantial as that of traditional media such as television and newspapers. “Yet it is clear that Facebook is less responsive to Australian police, regulators and law than traditional media outlets. Many parents, teachers and even police around Australia have told us of their concerns that it is difficult to find a person to speak to at Facebook, and often difficult to get objectionable material taken down speedily. Our consultations lead us to the view that the community expects more. “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that social media outlets like Facebook have undergone explosive growth in user numbers but have not yet adopted the standards of corporate social responsibility which longer-established media and communications companies meet – based on such indicators as the number of employees who are dedicated to engaging with law enforcement agencies or ensuring that content does not breach laws governing defamation and other matters.