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Picture searching

I do not know (I seldom do) whether this is original or not, but it sounds like a very significant achievement, which these people have at least copied and marketed quite well, or, better yet, may actually have semi-invented.

Gizmodo reports:

An amazing innovation in the software world today: ALIPR (Automatic Linguistic Indexing of Pictures) is a program that takes a look at digital images, applies some fancy math and then spits out a list of appropriate tags for the picture. It isn’t perfect, but the designers claim it has a 98 percent accuracy rate. They’ve been letting it dig through Flickr and the software has matched at least one user-defined tag almost every time.

As a constant searcher for photos, I have often found myself exclaiming “I wish you could search pictures!” By that I do not mean merely search the titles and wording that people have attached to pictures. I mean search the actual pictures themselves. It would appear that this process is now well and truly under way.

But, does this stuff have a dark side? How soon before you can take a photo of someone, and say to the internet: Show me all the other photos you can find of this person. You could learn a lot, including quite a few things he might not want you to know. Imagine that kind of thing combined with searching through pictures like these, which I like to take of London tourists.

I have been browsing through John Battelle’s book The Search (no problem finding books on the internet) in recent days, and he has interesting stuff on the privacy-invading potential of this kind of thing. (And oh look, Battelle’s Searchblog reports on something very similar to the ALIPR thing, by the sound of it.)

Oh dear. The original idea of this posting was to be writing about something good, to counter the relentless temptation of those who want the world to get better but cannot help noticing all the ways in which it is getting worse. Never mind. Gizmodo has lots of other stuff like this. (Now you can do your work on one screen, and have crazy pictures on the other.)

As does this blog, which I also recommend. Sample quote:

Women aren’t even trying to pretend they don’t like having sex with robots any more.

More bad news. But the good news is that if you want more pictures along those lines, they just got easier to find.

3 comments to Picture searching

  • Nick M

    Hats off to the folks behind this. The utter uselessness of the likes of Google image search has long been a bugbear of mine. And as a sometime web designer who frequently calls images things like 13a.jpeg I know I am also to blame.

  • Women aren’t even trying to pretend they don’t like having sex with robots any more.

    Apparently the robots also think we
    taste like bacon. Presumably they are going to eat the men and then have sex with the women. Doom is near.

  • Not too impressive. I tried 6 pictures of handguns, very defined with blank blackgrounds…it got a Python correct.

    It couldn’t tell full body shots of dogs on clean backgrounds either.

    It has a way to go…but would be interesting if perfected.