A human being has beaten a sophisticated artificial intelligence system in a facial recognition competition.
He’s no ordinary human, however. Wang Yucheng is famous in his home country of China for his amazing memory, having performed such feats as correctly identifying, on a game show, a certain glass of water from over 500 other nearly identical glasses.
His opponent was also of some renown—the facial recognition technology powering mPayment giant Alipay’s biometric authentication system. Nicknamed “Mark”, the system stayed even with Yucheng in the first two rounds of the competition, but was bested when it came time to compare individuals against their childhood photos.
As biometric technology continues its rapid advance, the competition serves as another reminder of the technology’s limitations. But, like a recent trial of facial recognition platforms’ accuracy against large-scale databases, it’s also illustrative of how far the technology has come: At this point a state-of-the-art system can only be beaten by a human approaching a superhuman genius for memorization, and at a task for which it has not been optimized.
July 6, 2016 – by Alex Perala