“Enhance!” Spotting Bystanders in Eye Reflections (and personality profiling)

Background: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk

So it turns out this actually works… at least, if you use a 39 megapixel camera that sells for $20,000 to take the picture.

I remain somewhat skeptical this will work ‘in the field’ where the necessary seconds (microseconds?) of arc resolution would be practical. But, hey, it’s still neat to see the human eye is an accurate convex reflector that COULD be used for imaging. Perhaps someday in the future, some evil manufacturer will combine advanced feature-tracking with lens stabilization and a super-telephoto lens to photograph behind the camera by zooming-in on the eyeballs of people in front of the camera…

Personality profiling: I realized a little while ago that (at least in public) we have a decent psychological profile of who makes a good betrayer in the traditional controller-betrayer information gathering pair.

(*Lack of empathy* for his/her co-workers or co-activists, can be controlled, and depending on the ‘angle’ used to recruit them has an out of balance personality in the direction of risk-loving, risk-aversion, lust for power, greed, sex, fame, etc.)

What about the person doing the recruiting? This is less well known. Here’s my guess: – Dominant but not domineering, ‘solid’, centered, charismatic personality – Someone you’d implicitly trust and give responsibility to
– Inoffensive
– Manipulative in a way goes unnoticed (and/or makes it seem OK) – Believes what they say (especially when it’s a lie)
– If appropriate, female (the pros have found that when it comes to controlling men, women are better at it, c.f evolutionary psychology)


“Criminal investigations often use photographic evidence to identify suspects. Here we combined robust face perception and high-resolution photography to mine face photographs for hidden information. By zooming in on high-resolution face photographs, we were able to recover images of unseen bystanders from reflections in the subjects’ eyes. To establish whether these bystanders could be identified from the reflection images, we presented them as stimuli in a face matching task (Experiment 1). Accuracy in the face matching task was well above chance (50%), despite the unpromising source of the stimuli. Participants who were unfamiliar with the bystanders’ faces (n = 16) performed at 71% accuracy [t(15) = 7.64, p<.0001, d = 1.91], and participants who were familiar with the faces (n = 16) performed at 84% accuracy [t(15) = 11.15, p<.0001, d = 2.79]. In a test of spontaneous recognition (Experiment 2), observers could reliably name a familiar face from an eye reflection image. For crimes in which the victims are photographed (e.g., hostage taking, child sex abuse), reflections in the eyes of the photographic subject could help to identify perpetrators."

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