Saturday , June 10 2023

Soon, Google Photos might remember more than we do


Service is a brilliant solution to those millions of photographs we take, but we never see; Still, one day the story of our intimate life could be in the hands of robots

The first time Google Photos made me cry, it was a blow that surprised me.

One morning in April, I looked at my dismissed phone to find out more about the calamities of the world. Instead, it was a photo alert that warned me that the Google image processor has created a collection of my videos. We've already seen those videos produced with artificial intelligence – what Facebook does from your year's summary is a recurring misfortune – so I did not expect too much. Then I pressed to reproduce, and in thirty seconds it was a ruin, with a long face and a tear.

The video was about my 5-year-old daughter, Samara: almost every moment she was awake was commemorated in a full and permanent way by me, her father obsessed with the cameras. My obsession created an archival nightmare; The videos and photos of Samara and his older brother, Khalil, both born in the era of smart phones, now lie in more terabytes – more images than a man may have time to review exhaustively. Someone might ask, why capture all those moments?

Well, in this simple two-minute collection, Google Foto has allowed me to take a look at the answer.

Google Computers can recognize faces, even those that are aging. Google Photos also seems to understand the tone and emotional value of human interactions, such as smiles, nerve chuckles, frowns, tantrums, joyful dances, and even fragments of dialogues such as "Happy Birthday!" or "Good done!" Synchronized with Hollywood music, the result was a fit in which events that were of obvious importance – birthday, school pieces – were mixed with dozens of ordinary moments of childhood joy.

There was Baby Samara when her hair was cut, when she walked a few steps; Samara, when she was young when she was playing with her brother when she struggled with him, when she courageously dropped into her swimming class; Samara is already in kindergarten while eating pizza on a car trip when she does not have her tongue on the camera. I can not post the video here; You'd like to show your diary. However, if Samara ever ran as president of her kindergarten class, the Google video might be equivalent to Bill Clinton's "Man From Hope," and win with a sliding triumph.

I want to say this when I talk about a "shock that surprised me": who would think software will make you cry? Images from Instagram and Snapchat can move you on a daily basis, but Google Photos is not a social network; is a personal network, a service that started three years ago, whose purpose was basically to function as a database hosting our growing collections of private photos and a service that in most cases runs cars, no other postmodern who I like.

And, despite all of the technologies they use on a regular basis, Google Photos has become one of the most emotionally relevant. It's extraordinary, not only because of its usefulness, but also because it has eliminated any headache that has caused the tsunami to store and search for the photos we all produce. Moreover, Google Photos is great because it predicts a possible understanding of our images through photography.

With the emphasis on structuring artificial intelligence, Google Photos suggests the beginning of a new era of custom robot histories. The billions of images we will make will become all the raw materials of algorithms that will organize memories and build narratives about the most intimate human experiences. In the future, robots will know everything about us and tell our stories.

However, we receive ourselves. Before worrying about tomorrow's fictitious science, it's worthwhile grabbing the basic utility that Google Photos currently has. Technology companies have tried to create mechanisms for managing digital photos since we began to roll back film rolls. Most efforts have failed; While our cameras are improving, we take more photos and more of the pictures we take, the less we can organize storage.

"With the invention of mobile phones, there was nothing that people did, absolutely nothing, that they did not also represent in a picture," said Martin Hand, sociologist at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario and author of Ubiquitous Photographs Academic research on the happy issue of having too many photos. "But this has generated its own problems: it has become an overwhelming problem."

More than a decade ago, the world of technology came up with a partial solution to overloading photos: images becoming social. With services like Flickr, then Facebook and Instagram, we tried to organize the images through the fact that others do it for us. The best photos were the ones that had the highest ratings in your social profile; the worst, the ones you have not published.

However, social networks have created another set of problems: there was a fear of being left out, a sense of performance anxiety, loneliness, and erosion of privacy. "There was a feeling that, because everything was public, young people had to constantly publish public ideas about themselves," Hand said.

In the same way, Google tried to participate in the social photo game. Google's first incarnation was part of Google Plus, the search company's social network, which was sealed and closed. A few years ago, after realizing that social networks were not its forces, Google returned to the design table with Google Photos.

Its renewed service has done three things: it has offered almost unlimited and free storage for your photos (you can pay more for your pictures to be stored in better resolution sizes). I put them in the cloud to get access to them anywhere. And most importantly, photos may depend on Google's false artificial intelligence to solve what the company perceived to be an essential issue of the mobile phone era: the fact that we can make all the pictures, but we rarely see them

"We have realized that you will never evoke or remember any of those moments," said Anil Sabharwal, Google's vice president, who led the team that built Fotos and still leads it. "You were on a beautiful vacation, you took hundreds of incredible pictures, the years have passed and you've never seen them before."

When it started in 2015, Google Foto generated immediate relief. For example, Face Recognition has made it possible to automatically share photos. Now, when I take a picture of my children, Google recognizes and shares those photos with my wife; Your pictures are shared with me. In an incredible, instantaneous way and without having to think about it, everyone has a complete collection of our children's photos and the anxiety of keeping them safe has disappeared.

Then, we have Google's daily reminders for you to remember. It's hard to exaggerate when I mention how well Google's cars are to dig into your collection and find new things that might be amazed. In a series called "Before and After," Google will find photos of the same person or groups of people in similar positions in two different periods: your children on the first day of school this year and the same day of last year, or the photograph you made in front of the Empire State building ten years ago today.

Last month, Google released a new home device, the Home Hub, a voice-activated device that has a screen where it presents an endless presentation with this kind of nostalgic bait. It's magic. I have been with my home center for more than a week and have profoundly changed my photo experience. They have acquired a life of their own.

How much memories organized by artificial intelligence shape us the narratives about ourselves.

And, despite what costs me not to use Google Photos, I'm a bit terrible of what promises for the future. There is a lot of research in the field of social science that shows how photographs change our memories in a meaningful way. One study has shown that when we take pictures without thinking that our ability to remember events in the world around us is diminished. Photographs shape the perception we have of ourselves, at the point of creating new memories: A false photo can convince you that something happened to you, even if it never happened.

Considering all this, I am worried about how many memories organized through artificial intelligence shape our stories about ourselves. I'm thinking about Samara – and children like her – as one day she will see videos like the one that Google produced about her and she will draw some conclusions about childhood just because some of the technology technology companies for profit receive funding from the publicity about what kind of scenes they would look like and which they were going to hide.

At this time, there are still no disasters: Google Photos videos are happy and bright. However, if the story depends on who the story tells you, Google Foto takes us to a new ground.

Today, cars increasingly understand our human world and shape our reality in the most profound way and, like the cameras themselves, are inevitable.

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