Earlier this year Facebook created DeepFace, a facial recognition system almost as accurate as the human brain. In a standardized test involving pairs of photographs, a human being would get the answer correct 97.53% of the time; Facebook’s technology scored an impressive 97.25%. Most people thought that was as far as facial recognition breakthroughs would go in 2014. They were wrong.
A few months after Facebook’s breakthrough, the Multimedia Laboratory at the Chinese University of Hong Kong claims to have smashed Facebook’s record by building a recognition system that achieves a massive 99.15% accuracy rate—based on some truly innovative deep learning models.
“This is strong evidence that deep learning is making artificial intelligence possible,” says the university’s Xiaoou Tang, former head of Microsoft Asia’s Visual Computing group of Microsoft Asia. “As a breakthrough, it’s very exciting for us.”
By surpassing human levels of recognition for the first time, Tang’s triumph demonstrates just how far facial recognition technology has come in recent years—and where it might be going next.