philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Facebook research automatically creates an avatar from a photo

examplesThe idea being pursued was a system that really makes the best possible representation of a given face, using whatever tools it has at hand. So whether it’s emoji, Bitmoji (shudder), Mii, a VR face generator or anything else, it could still accomplish its task. To paraphrase the researchers, humans do it all the time, so why not AI?

 The system accomplishes this (to some degree) by judging both the face and the generated representation by the same analysis and feature identification algorithm, as if they were simply two pictures of the same person. When the resulting numbers generated by the two are as close as they seem likely to get, that means the two are visually similar to a sufficient degree. (At some point with these cartoon faces it isn’t going to get much better.)

What’s great about this technique is that because it isn’t tied to any particular avatar type, it works (theoretically) on any of them. As long as there are good representations and bad ones, the system will match them with the actual face and figure out which is which.

Facebook could use this information for many useful purposes — perhaps most immediately a bespoke emoji system. It could even update automatically when you put up a picture with a new haircut or trimmed beard.

The full paper is pretty technical, but it was presented at an AI conference, so that’s to be expected.

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