Gates, Ballmer could be mistaken for actors

Microsoft execs rate on face-recognition program

Maybe you're one of those people turned off by the thought of buying software from that billionaire brainiac Bill Gates and his rabblerousing sidekick Steve Ballmer. But maybe you'd change your mind if you thought about them more as say, actors Ben Kingsley and Spencer Tracy.

According to a popular face-recognition program on the Web site MyHeritage.com, this isn't as much of a stretch as you might think. We popped photos of the Microsoft duo into the Web site's easy-to-use and free program and you have to give the system credit: Bill Gates looked most like . . . himself (it got a 78 percent face-recognition certainty rating). He and singer Placido Domingo also share facial characteristics. As for Ballmer, he looks most like an MIT chemist named Richard Schrock, but also overlaps with documentary director Michael Moore.

The algorithm- and learning-based system is addictive as you watch it scan a photo off of your hard drive and produce face matches within seconds. The pop-up ads and requests to sign up for People magazine seemed like a small price to pay. The Web site, which is mainly focused on geneology searches and is often mentioned alongside visual search site Riya, sells some premium services as well.

Anyway, back to the face-recognition system. How's this pairing? Cisco CEO John Chambers and New England Patriots quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady. Some guys just can do no wrong.

We figured FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was a lock to be matched with Daniel Radcliffe, the young actor who plays Harry Potter in the movies. Sure enough, they did match up (and I shouldn't admit this, but my wife also matched up with Radcliffe), though comic actor Eugene Levy and United States vice president wannabe John Edwards were seen as more likely doppelgangers for Martin.

Others who we ran through the system:

-- Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz (66 percent George W. Bush).

-- Ex-HP chief Carly Fiorina (73 percent Raquel Welch and Madonna).

-- Google CEO Eric Schmidt and heartthrob Ashton Kutcher (66 percent). Now there's one I wouldn't have guessed.

Of course, it's only fair that I put myself through the system, too. The results: 63 percent writer John Irving, with Kevin Costner, Clark Gable and Michael Keaton also in the picture. And oh yes, the system linked me to Robert Patrick, Arnold's nemesis in Terminator 2. How can I not recommend trying out the system given all that?

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Bob Brown

Network World

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