Using Artificial Intelligence to Put Names to the Faces of Holocaust-Era Photographs

June 28 2022

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the POLIN museum in Warsaw, and many other institutions have extensive collections of photographs taken of ordinary Jews before and during World War II. Yet identifying the people in them is usually only made possible by serendipity. Daniel Patt has devised a way to use computer technology to solve the problem, as Yaakov Schwartz writes:

Patt, a forty-year-old software engineer . . . set to work creating and developing From Numbers to Names (N2N), an artificial intelligence-driven facial-recognition platform that can scan through photos from prewar Europe and the Holocaust, linking them to people living today.

Currently, N2N’s software—which is free and simple to use—only returns the ten best potential matches that it can find in the database available to it. Though not yet perfect, the nonprofit project has already seen great success: the software has been used to search through hundreds of thousands of photos to identify faces for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) as well as individual survivors and descendants of survivors—including a number of celebrities.

Patt, who only works on the project on his own time and with his own resources, has now been joined by a growing team of engineers, data scientists, and researchers, who are constantly expanding the reach and accuracy of the software. In addition to the photos and videos currently available to the platform, Patt is working for N2N to gain access to 700,000 more photos from the pre-Holocaust and Holocaust eras.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Holocaust, Jewish museums, Photography, Technology

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter