09.12.2021 IfI Colloquium: The "Criminality from Face" Illusion


Prof. Walter J. Scheirer, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, U.S.A.

Date: Thursday, 9 December, 2021, 17:15 h

Location: online only. (information here) 

Details about all speakers and talks shall be checked always just ahead of a certain presentation date: (information here) 


The automatic analysis of face images can generate predictions about a person’s gender, age, race, facial expression, body mass index, and various other indices and conditions. A few recent publications have claimed success in analyzing an image of a person’s face in order to predict the person’s status as Criminal / Non-Criminal. Predicting “criminality from face” may initially seem similar to other facial analytics, but this talk argues that attempts to create a criminality-from-face algorithm are necessarily doomed to fail, that apparently promising experimental results in recent publications are an illusion resulting from inadequate experimental design, and that there is potentially a large social cost to belief in the criminality from face illusion.


Prof. Walter J. Scheirer, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, U.S.A. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, with affiliations in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Center for Brain Science, and the director of research & development at Securics, Inc., an early stage company producing innovative computer vision-based solutions. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and his M.S. and B.A. degrees from Lehigh University. Dr. Scheirer has extensive experience in the areas of computer vision, machine learning and image processing. His overarching research interest is the fundamental problem of recognition, including the representations and algorithms supporting solutions to it.