After the historic Go match between Lee Sodol and AlphaGo resulted in the machines winning, there has been great confidence in what artificial intelligence can accomplish. But, this time, it’s a win for mankind.
On June 30th, Ant Financial, a subsidiary of Alibaba, hosted a facial recognition competition between artificial intelligence Mark and real flesh-and-blood human Wang Yuheng, who also happens to be a famous contestant in the Chinese reality show, “The Brain.”
On this reality show, Wang displayed his incredible photographic memory and ability to discern objects by identifying a single specific cup of water out of 520 cups, Xinhua reports. In his spare time, he has also helped police solve a couple cases.
The competition consisted of three rounds: Wang and AI Mark had to identify pictures of famous female web stars, because obviously, there is something about hot girls that attracts people — and even AI.
A poll conducted online showed that 61% of netizens believed that Wang would triumph over his artificial foe. Hmm, does that imply people’s faith in Wang, or just the lack thereof for Ant Financial’s AI? [Spoiler alert: netizens are correct.]
The argument for Wang winning was that thanks to makeup and plastic surgery, many of the web stars have ended up looking pretty much the same. It’s already tough for humans to distinguish between people’s faces in general, but it’s a challenge for robots as well.
In the first round, the two contestants had to identify three randomly-selected women from 150 pictures — AI Mark completed this task 6 minutes faster than did his human opponent.
The second round was similar to the first, but it was out of 300 pictures. Wang managed to finish one minute faster.
The third and final round was to identify one or two childhood images out of 80 pics of the web stars. In the upset of the century, Wang was able to identity one, while Mark identified a grand total of zero.
Through this competition, Ant Financial, the creator of Mark and operator of Alipay, hopes to create a payment method that utilizes facial recognition. Last March, Jack Ma offered a demonstration to the crowd at CeBit, a technology conference in Germany, SCMP reports.
He used the “Smile to Pay” facial recognition technology, which is still in its beta mode, to buy a souvenir stamp on Taobao. Hopefully, it’s not fake.
Ma also offered some insight on this development, stating:
“[Using] online payments to buy things is always a big headache,” he said. “You forget your password, you worry about security, today we’ll show you a new technology, how people in the future will buy things online.”
Well, looks like “the future” will have to wait.
By Sarah Lin
[Images via SCMP / NetEase / HIAPK]