If you’ve seen a lot of people suddenly sharing uncannily similar artistic doppelgängers of themselves recently, Google’s facial recognition abilities and massive database of art are to blame. The tech giant recently recently added a new feature to its Arts and Culture app which allows users to snap a photo and instantaneously get a list of portraits they resemble, and it’s pretty good.
If you haven’t used it yet, the process is pretty simple: Download the app, scroll down to the “Is your portrait in a museum?” section, take a photo of your face, and Google will determine which work of art you most resemble. While the UI is about as simple as could be, under the hood Google is using a sophisticated facial recognition system to map users’ facial features, which necessitates editing the photos and reorienting them to ensure a clear view. Google then compares those maps with similar ones it’s constructed from portraits in the 70,000-plus works of art in its Google Art Project database.
In general, Google Arts and Culture is very good at generating works of art that look like users—including when they try to trick it with makeup or headgear. Here’s a sampling of its pairings:
Sometimes the results are, ah, unexpected, yet pretty accurate? Here’s a sampling of users who probably didn’t get the results they sought:
Your mileage may vary. I kept on getting Sebastiano del Piombo’s 1525 portrait of Florentine politician Anton Francesco degli Albizzi (1486–1537), who the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston writes was described as “overbearing, haughty, and restless and was beheaded for treason by Cosimo I de’ Medici, grand duke of Tuscany.” I don’t really look like the guy, but at least the description sounds about right.
The Arts and Culture app is available on the Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Google claims that it doesn’t store any of the photos uploaded for the purposes of this feature longer than it takes to process them for comparisons, but by using it, keep in mind you’re essentially consenting to contribute to the company’s facial-recognition tech.