Average Faces: The Future of Anonymization?

DEMONSTRATING: ViSmedia researcher Lars Nyre, showing people the app Prosopo. In the background, master student Camilla Mjøen Lien. (PHOTO: Astrid Gynnild/ViSmedia)

DEMONSTRATING: ViSmedia researcher Lars Nyre, showing people the app Prosopo. In the background, master student Camilla Mjøen Lien. (PHOTO: Astrid Gynnild/ViSmedia)

Prosopo seeks to give anonymized images a face. On October 4, the app was presented at Digital Day in Grieghallen in Bergen.

ViSmedia was represented by Lars Nyre and master student Camilla Mjøen Lien. Nyre is a professor at University of Bergen, and runs the experimental ViSmedia project Prosopo.

The goal of Digital Day was to inform, inspire and motivate employees at the University by providing digital knowledge and an opportunity to test what was going on in the research field. A number of researchers presented ongoing digitalization projects, tools and methods, as well as future solutions. 

 

SCEPTICAL

In today's journalism, it is common to anonymize faces by photographing people from behind or by placing a black box on top of recognizable features. Prosopo wants to give people a realistic face instead of this box. This face would be based on a database of images that can be combined to create a realistic-looking face, says Professor Nyre.

The prototype has been met by scepticism as well as joy. Front end editor in the Norwegian mediahouse "Bergens Tidende", Jon Tufto, says,

"To the degree that we manipulate photographs it should be clear from the photo itself that it has been manipulated. When readers see a photograph in the news media – that looks real – the readers must know that it in fact is real. It does not suffice to label the photograph as manipulated," Tufto explains in an interview on TekLab.

Here is a video in which two TekLab experiments, INJECT and Prosopo, are explained. Prosopo is presented by Camilla Lien as the second clip in this short video (in Norwegian): 


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