It would be nice to have a decently designed study of how well all the 1,000 (adult?) faces match the photos. As Richard Feynman once told his students,
But why wait for whole genome sequencing to "predict" faces? Scores of police agencies already use a different company's product. Parabon Snapshot provides pictures as part of a "scientifically objective description" so "you can conduct your investigation more efficiently and close cases more quickly." Ellen Greytak, director of bioinformatics for Parabon, says that "So far, we've done more than sixty different cases, and we've also done evaluations at the local, state, federal and international levels." In fact, "we've had one conviction and a few other arrests." Michael Roberts, Could DNA Imaging Used in Bennett Family Murder Break JonBenet Case?, Westword, Sept. 16, 2016. Although "none of the police agencies in question has gone public with the technology's role in the cases thus far, she teases that an announcement about a success is pending." Id.
"The composite isn't intended to be like a driver's license photo, but it will bear a resemblance. And if you have a list of 1,000 people who were nearby that day, you can put the ones that match the most at the top, and the ones that match the least at the bottom." Id. (quoting Greytak). Parabon's website explains that this achievement comes from "using deep data mining and advanced machine learning algorithms in a specialized bioinformatics pipeline."
Maybe I missed it, but I saw no references to cross-validation studies of whatever oozed out of the pipeline. Nevertheless, "Snapshot trait predictions are presented with a corresponding measure of confidence, which reflects the degree to which such factors influence each particular trait. Traits, such as eye color, that are highly heritable (i.e., are not greatly affected by environmental factors) are predicted with higher accuracy and confidence than those that have lower heritability; these differences are shown in the confidence metrics that accompany each Snapshot trait prediction."
A "confidence metric" seems to be missing from an unusual advertising campaign called "The Face of Litter" in Hong Kong:
Nanalyze, Parabon Nanolabs and DNA Phenotyping, Apr. 30, 2015. Parabon calls this a "social experiment," calling to mind the dismissive remark, "That's not an experiment, it's an experience."
(Last updated 11/29/16)