Subscriber Discussion

Super Surveillance Operators?

Heres a news story about UK Police using "super recognizers", that have the ability to remember hundreds of offenders faces, to monitor police CCTV feeds for a carnival. Harvard researchers published a paper on "super recognizers" in 2009. Would being able to test for this ability and hire "super recognizers" as surveillance operators make a significant impact as compared to automated facial recognition? Do airports and casinos already employ super recognizers?

Are you a "super recognizer"? Take a 60 Minutes test and find out.

Interesting topic. I have personal experience with someone with this ability:

Back in college I pledged a fraternity. As part of the week-long 'Hell Week' process that they used leading up to becoming full-fledged members, the brothers would bring in some old formerly-active member (anywhere in age from late 30's to really, really old dudes) and we would have to pick him out from all the annual pictures all over the walls of the house (fraternity was almost 100 yrs old).

Almost nobody could do it except this one guy in our pledge class - who nailed it every time.

After we realized he could do it so easily, we would all be huddled around him as he went from picture to picture (each one containing all the current members, like 50 faces each). He would scan each annual picture in like 10 seconds before rejecting it and then we all shuffled on to the next one, all the while being verbally harangued and having beer tossed at us by the brothers.

So, not only could he do it - he did it under duress. And he picked dudes out of like 1935 annual pics, meaning aging of faces was no barrier to his odd skill.

I found/find this quite fascinating...

P.S. The guy in question exhibited no other signs that he had savant-like capabilities in other areas. He was in some of my classes and he wasn't very bright. :)

How much do these super recognizers make? One would think such a super ability would be useful in more financially rewarding occupations.

Sounds like something out of Big Bang Theory... Sheldon works at the Airport.

It makes a ton of sense, but I wonder if that personality of person that is a "super recognizer" would be able to do a job like that long term.