Have you ever thought about how you got your first name? You might think it was a random name that your parents chose, but if you think about it more, you’ll realize your first name isn’t random at all. It’s no accident that there is a ‘popular names list’ each year. How does a name get popular? If you have a child, you were probably influenced by gender, ethnicity, other names in your family, other popular names at the time (which denotes age) or your own creativity at the time you chose your child’s name.
Andrew Gallagher, a scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and his team have created a software that can guess your first name. They did this by first using photos of faces that were tagged with names on Flickr to create a massive database so the software could start to recognize certain characteristics that are common in people with the same first name.
Right now this system only has a 4% chance of guessing your first name correctly, but it is getting more accurate, and over time this percentage will most likely increase significantly. I’m not sure what the practical applications of this technology would be, but it sure sounds like fun. Instead of facial recognition or voice recognition, it’s like name recognition.
I originally read about this on New Scientist, and they put the system to the test. They challenged this software to guess the first names of 14 people in their London office. The system only got one right, which gives it a 7% success rate. Of course, this sample size is too small to make any sweeping judgments about the overall accuracy of the software. There are a lot of people in the world with ‘made up’ creative names that their parents created from scratch. I doubt this system would be able to ever get those right, no matter how sophisticated it is.
What about your first name? Is it indicative of your era? Mine is. My mother always said she named me ‘Diana’ because she loved listening to Diana Ross when she was young. Kids born these days probably don’t know who Diana Ross is. Hmm…