Friday, December 04, 2009

Passing Similarity

As someone with a Ph.D. in English literature, of course, I love the idea of the Doppelgänger, the concept that there is a double of one's self out there somewhere, which gets retold in the narratives of stories as diverse as The Secret Sharer, Despair, and Frankenstein. And I've blogged about my own online doubles found through social network sites.

And yet experience has taught me to be skeptical about the efficacy of algorithms of both voice detection software and facial recognition software, particularly now that the government is deploying such matching systems for everything from simulating interactions with Iraqi civilians to spotting would-be terrorists at airports. After all, in the Blue and Brown Books , Wittgenstein argued that seeing family resemblance in human faces raises a number of hard philosophical questions about knowledge and relateness as an epistemological category.

So it wasn't with too much surprise that I discovered that the "Another You" out there being promoted by the Coca-Cola Zero Facebook application in my case turned out to look more like the Numa Numa guy than yours truly.

My second try was even less successful, since apparently the system looks for easy Crayola coloring things like skin color or the presence of glasses, and my new pseudo-invisible stylish eyeglasses frames render me invisible to the software.



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