Look at This: Computer Program Sees Faces in Random Shapes

By Veronique Greenwood | August 7, 2012 12:47 pm


First, there is only a blur of shifting gray fragments. Shapes that look like they’ve been scissored out by a hyperactive two-year old spiral around the screen. Then, pieces start to fall into place. There’s something there: an eye, a crook of a mouth, a sea captain’s hat, a beard…a pair of full lips, no, a chin…

The computer program Pareidoloop, developed by programmer Phil McCarthy, plays with our natural tendency to see faces in everything, a phenomenon called pareidolia. First it layers random polygons on each other and then sics a facial recognition algorithm on the results. Each time the random placement of a shape makes the image look more like a face, the software notes it, and gradually the program builds a face from the noise. Above are the “faces” we got from running the program over the last few hours. Each one has its own unique brand of creepy.

Play with Pareidoloop yourself here.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Technology
  • Matt

    I see at one Virgin Mary and two reasonable Jesus candidates. Call the Vatican!

    • Veronique Greenwood

      On it!!

  • http://www.twitter.com/theogonia31 M87

    Interesting. Recently my Picasa face detection recognized a face in a really blurry picture of UGC10214 that I had from 2002 or so. Therefore god exists. In UGC10214.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar