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01-08-2014, 07:33 PM   #1
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Google Images is freaking me out!

Has anybody noticed how powerful a tool Google Images has become?

I bet a lot of people don't realize this, but you can search from an image. I use it to find out if I've posted an image before here, and if so, where. Sometimes it really surprises me with other things, though.

For example: I gave it this picture to make sure I hadn't posted it before:



This is what it came up with:




I never told it about the library. It's not in the image's URL, nor it's filename, nowhere. The camera's not GPS-equipped. But that's exactly where I took the picture, and Google knew it!

Granted, it's hit or miss, but this really shocked me, and you know it's only going to get better.

Here's another. This one's not as surprising, but it still impressed me:



Google picked up on that Bike Lane sign immediately, regardless of the fact that it's upside-down. It gave me a link to a nice "Manual of Traffic Signs." The sign I took a picture of is about halfway down the page.

Serously, people, try this out. You might be impressed. Or frightened.

01-08-2014, 07:41 PM   #2
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The Google Goggles app for Android does basically the same thing, but will do the search the instant you take the picture.
01-08-2014, 07:41 PM   #3
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I think I'd be frightened.
01-08-2014, 07:45 PM   #4
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I vote for frightened.

01-08-2014, 07:50 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by photographyguy74 Quote
I think I'd be frightened.
Google Now is the frightening one, it learns your routine. It keeps track of locations you visit often, so it learns where and when you work, it learns what restaurants you like and a lot more, all without any input from you other than carrying the phone with you. It also learns your travel times between various locations so it can help you plan departure times.
01-08-2014, 07:52 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
The Google Goggles app for Android does basically the same thing, but will do the search the instant you take the picture.
Huh! That looks pretty cool! I didn't know about that one.

QuoteOriginally posted by photographyguy74 Quote
I think I'd be frightened.
QuoteOriginally posted by jac Quote
I vote for frightened.
Yeah, it's scary, isn't it? I wonder where this is going...
01-08-2014, 07:54 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
Google Now is the frightening one, it learns your routine. It keeps track of locations you visit often, so it learns where and when you work, it learns what restaurants you like and a lot more, all without any input from you other than carrying the phone with you. It also learns your travel times between various locations so it can help you plan departure times.
...and sell you stuff! With smartphones, the formerly little computer world is breaking out into the real world in a big way.
01-08-2014, 07:57 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by scratchpaddy Quote
Huh! That looks pretty cool! I didn't know about that one.
One thing I should mention, which I learned by a horrible mistake, by default it is linked to your camera app. You can disable this in the Goggles settings and I would recommend it because sometimes you really don't want it to search for whatever text you happen to be taking a picture of. I have it set to only be active when I run the Goggles app and not the standard camera app.

01-08-2014, 08:08 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
One thing I should mention, which I learned by a horrible mistake, by default it is linked to your camera app. You can disable this in the Goggles settings and I would recommend it because sometimes you really don't want it to search for whatever text you happen to be taking a picture of. I have it set to only be active when I run the Goggles app and not the standard camera app.
Don't worry, my phone doesn't have a camera on it, or a touchscreen, or anything more sophisticated than is required for calling people.
01-08-2014, 08:17 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by scratchpaddy Quote
Don't worry, my phone doesn't have a camera on it, or a touchscreen, or anything more sophisticated than is required for calling people.
Mine is a computer that happens to make phone calls occasionally, being a 2.3ghz quad core it might actually be more powerful than my actual computer. I didn't have a mobile phone until Android phones became cheap and decent enough, since I despise talking on the phone.
01-08-2014, 08:27 PM   #11
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People still use Google?

All "politics" aside, I have used that feature many times and it is creepy, like all of Google.

What's even creepier is searching an image of someone (yourself) and getting results.
01-08-2014, 08:40 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by calculator01 Quote
People still use Google?

All "politics" aside, I have used that feature many times and it is creepy, like all of Google.

What's even creepier is searching an image of someone (yourself) and getting results.
It is definitely something you need to be aware of what you are sharing when using it, but a lot of the information is out there whether you want it to be or not. At least Google will give you a report of what it knows about you and give you the option to delete it.

I don't personally use Google Now, I disable location services on my devices unless needed for navigation, I only use Goggles for things I would be searching for anyway and I don't put anything on Google's cloud services that would be of any interest to anyone but me. I'm also non-existent on all social media sites, Google+ or otherwise.
01-08-2014, 09:04 PM   #13
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Welcome to the world of big data where almost anything and everything you do can become data for someone to mine. I can see why you are freaked out, but on the flip side, whether from fictional movies and television shows or more realistic ones, we probably aren't all that surprised by facial recognition software. Of the two images you showed, the Burton Barr library is probably an easy one for a computer to identify. It has some fairly strong features from the lighting and symmetry aspects. I'm sure most people who had see the library would recall it from the picture you took. A bit like the Sydney Opera House or other buildings with strong features. The second one would be harder for a person to identify - either you know where that upside down bike sign is or you don't. But the computer can "easily" correlate upside down text on a sign that is a certain distance from a Armore sign and might even be able to enhance the road signs in the distance to extract more useful text. I'm not trying to downplay how impressive data analysis and searching methods have become but I'm not surprised by these capabilities.
01-08-2014, 09:23 PM   #14
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I shouldn't be surprised either, but it just seems like we've crossed a line. Computers live in a world of data. Images seem like such a complex, organic thing that I just never expected a computer to be able to look at one and know exactly where it is. I didn't choose my perspective, my focal length, my focus point, my camera, my lens, etc. to make it easy for a computer to identify the place, but that didn't stop it. I know it doesn't work the same way we do, and so far, it's limited, but it's getting there.

That's a good point about the facial recognition thing. Fingerprints, too. I guess computers have been doing this for a long time. It just never quite hit home for me until now.
01-08-2014, 10:40 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
Google Now is the frightening one, it learns your routine. It keeps track of locations you visit often, so it learns where and when you work, it learns what restaurants you like and a lot more, all without any input from you other than carrying the phone with you. It also learns your travel times between various locations so it can help you plan departure times.
So...in other words, Google Now is a stalker?
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