Morphos in the News

Remember that scene in Uglies with the morphos? When Tally and Shay play with a digital version of their face to see what they’ll look like as pretties?

Well, a group of Israeli computer scientists have developed something similar: a “beautification engine” that automatically renders photos of faces into (supposedly) prettier versions of themselves.

I’m particularly happy with the name “beautification engine,” which is kind of steampunk sounding. Here’s an example of its work:

Interestingly, the software doesn’t smooth wrinkles or blemishes. It changes only facial geometry, while trying to keep the face recognizable. (Being faithful to the original is not something they’d worry about in Tally’s city, of course.) And really, like a lot of these attempts to reduce beauty to numbers, it’s more bland-making than anything else.

Here’s the article about the software in the NY Times, and here’s a slide show of celebrity faces altered by it.

What’s intriguing is how many faces are less pretty after they’ve been run through the software. (Especially Marlon Brando.) This may be because we “know” the celebrities involved, and don’t want them changed.

Or maybe it’s because some of these celebs are already pretties, and “there is no beauty without some strangeness in its proportion.” But the software, which looks kind of bland-making to me, removes that strangeness and actually makes certain people less pretty.

It’s cool that this came out now, though, because one of the biggest sections in Bogus to Bubbly is about the science of beauty. I tried to distill a lot of the research that’s been done, and to explain it in psychological and evolutionary terms in ways relevant to the Uglies series. And frankly, I think my explanations are better, or at least more complete, than those in the Times.

You’ll be able to judge for yourself in less than two weeks, because Bogus comes out October 21! (And yes, some school book fairs are already selling the book.)

Thank you for spotting this article, Sophie and Hiroki!

And one last shout-out from the tour bus: Tonight Justine will be in Kansas City, MO to talk about How to Ditch Your Fairy, with me in tow!

Thursday, 9 October 2008, 7:00PM
Kansas City Library

4801 Main Street
Kansas City, MO

146 thoughts on “Morphos in the News

  1. My ancestry is kinda sparky too – German, Dutch and French

    I learnt French and Gereman at school, so can sort of speak it, and I suppose Dutch is kinda like Afrikaans, which I can speak cuz I come from South Africa

    I want sun again!!! New Zealand’s got eight months of really cold and rainy winter and then four months of unbearably hot summer.


  2. oh wow…yesterday i started working on the english assigment that hasn’t been asigned (we’re doing a short stories unit…it is unavoidable that eventually during this unit we WILL have to write a short story) and it’s probably already too long….as in, it’s already, like, 2 writen pages, front and back, single spaced…so yeah….it’s so sad though, already…i might not be able to finish it….wow…..all the short stories we read in class involve people dying and mine starts with that….wow….

  3. TRIATHLON STARTS TODAY AND IT ISN’T AT SIX IN THE MORNING!!!! IT’S AT NOON!!!! YAY! (please note that noon is a great improvment from six thirty which is what it was for swimming on saturdays.) YAY! This means that I get to run for half an hour and swim for an hour!!! I’m mega-excited! I hope that it’s like swimming in that there are lots of people like me there…cuz with swimming, everyone was kinda weird and it really rocked!

  4. Andrea-la: noon is a BIG improvement from 6:30. ugh…i HATE getting up early in the morning (btw early for me is like before 10 o clock) ya so today i got up early (9:15) and tomorrow i’ll have to get up early (8:00) sooo ya, but i have monday and tuesday OFF YAAAA NO SKOOL!!!!!

    Tonight is my homecoming! and my friends are making me go! seriously peer pressure was working overtime. i was fed up with them asking me to go that i just said YES!!! it better be fun or otherwise…well…something bad will happen. and there better be some GREEN DAY music!!!

    GREEN DAY!!! <3
    I’m the son of rage and love.
    The Jesus of Suburbia.
    The bible of none of the above.
    On a steady diet of.
    Sodapop and Ritalin.
    No one ever died for my,
    Sins in hell,
    As far as i can tell.
    At least the ones i’ve gotten away with.

  5. When I saw this story, I instantly thought of Uglies.

    They didn’t look how I imagined ‘prettyfied’ faces would look, though…

  6. Surprisingly, (or not surprisingly), I found a few of the originals prettier than the final product…

  7. bran-la: normal was in season? when did THAT happen?
    TYC Leader: early for me is before six. Late for me is after 8. I can’t sleep in past 8:30. I was so proud of myself, today i made it til 8:32. Yeah.

  8. I don’t know who that person was that I mentioned in my last post, but she was on the slideshow (if you actually looked at it. Otherwise I don’t think anyone would know who those people were!)

    Hmmm… no new post from scott-la. I’m uber-bored right now. Anyone here still?

  9. Do you guys remember Mr. Licking Nose Man? Yeah, well, guess what? HES BACK!!!!


    Oh yeah. Well isnt he just so cute…(said in a cooing voice)

  10. Most of the celebrity photos look pretty much the same….
    OMG, so that’s how everyone says they already got it! Darn my school for having such a late book fair!! Now I have to (attempt to) be patient for another two weeks, and NOT spent all my money on books until then.

  11. my school doesnt even have book fairs(my elementary school did but its in November and Im in grade 1 now so I cant
    but waiting is driving is crazy

  12. Kristin-la, you’re in grade ONE and reading Scott-la’s books. I’m sure I probably just understood wrong, but if not, impressive. My school does, but once a year, and they’re NOT THAT GOOD. They sell the usual useless junk, scented erasers, little diaries, and pens galore, and a lot of books, too, but not many are really GOOD books. Not that I usually don’t get one or two things from there every year…but it’s just nothing compared to Borders or Barnes and Noble.

  13. My school doesn’t do book fairs either 🙁

    Cute Mr Licking Nose Man, Bran-la!

    Lotti-wa, you come from South Africa? Sparky.

    I LOATHE writing short stories … cos I can’t get them short. So unhappy-making when you have to write a short story for an assessment …

    Hmmm, the fact that the general opinion of pretty will change is right. Look at how models and stuff have changed over the past years.

  14. poor Bran-la… it’ll come out… eventually. 😛

    my scool has book fairs! there usually suckish, but now im IN LOVE with them! that is how i got BOGUS TO BUBBLY 18 DAYS EARLY!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

    hey Bran-la, remember Mr. Licking Nose Man Jr?


    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 😛

  15. I don’t think my school has book fairs, but my sis’s school does. nothing too special there the usual books, pens, erasers, the little toys that everyone gets, and so on. The funny thing ’bout her book fair is that it starts one day before bogus to bubbly comes out. i still hope they have it though. saves me a trip to the mall.


  16. Apparently, these people need to read your books and learn from them, Scott-la.

    Society prospers off of how beautiful the system of there government is…not on how beautiful the people working it are.

  17. i think a new post is needed coz there’s only so much u can say about these pics. i mean they’re boring, unrealy, and i dunno wat else…i guess just…BLAH!!!
    Ugh….soooooo MAD!!! Bogus to Bubbly isn’t out yet and i don’t have a book fair!!!! this is UNFAIR!!! it should come out at the same time everywhere! (well except with the time difference in different places…but still it should)
    Homecoming was fun last night (except they didn’t play GREEN DAY. apparently u can’t dance to it. i beg to differ. but watever.) ya so my friends making me go wasn’t all that bad. ugh… i hate it when people are right.

    GREEN DAY!!!<3

  18. HEY!!!!! GO LOOK AT NAME THIS BOOK!!!!!! IT’S UNDER JULY 2008!!!!! JUST FOR FUN!!!! DO IT!!!!!!
    (sorry for the caps but i put it on caps lock…ya…fun)

  19. i’m reading “The Host” right now…it’s pretty good….but i haven’t had much time for reading recently…i’ve been trying to write a short story for english class….but it’s kinda looking like it’s gonna be a short novel…oh well, i guess i wont be handing that in….i guess i’ll just hand in part of “The Wallie Chronicals”….lol….but i think i might of scarred my english teacher enough already….lol….whatever….i’ll write about wallie and the alien invasion….

  20. Andrea-la: wallie and the alien invasion…..intresting….

    Bethany-la: cool

    ugh, now i’ve got to go finish a project due tomorrow.


    P.S. Happy Columbus day!!!

  21. bethany-la: YAY FOR YOU!!!! I wanna get a new oboe…mine is just a plastic student model…I want a nice one, but that might cost over $2000. Which is more than I can afford. Especially since I need to get a new bike for triathlon….

  22. yuck… Twilight(eeww)
    Im reading Skinned rght now
    trying to save it until bogus to bubbly come out
    (and how to ditch your fairy)

    (which comes out the same day.)

  23. OMIGOD!!!!! my “friend” is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ANNOYING!!!! and my cousin. so today my “friend” texts me saying that i called her a b**** and that she was gonna get pregnant in high skool but i didn’t say anything like that. my cousin did. and guess who told her that i said those things…MY COUSIN!!! ugh… i am SOOOOO mad right now it’s not even funny. people just piss me off sometimes…wait no correction…ALL THE TIME!!!! AHHHH!!!
    ok ranting is done…sorry!

    GREEN DAY!!!! <3
    Staring out of my window,
    Watching the cars go rolling by.
    My friends are gone i’ve got nothing to do.
    So i sit here patienly.
    Watching the clock tick so slowly.
    Gotta get away or my brains will explode.

  24. oh one more thing… GO LOOK at the NAME THIS BOOK COMMENTS!!! go down until u find my name and look at the titles i posted. some are creative and others are dumb but mostly creative!!! look if ur bored and look if ur not bored…JUST DO IT!!! (like NIKE) and tell me wat ya think. it may not make any difference but it’s still fun! sooooo…yaaa…DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!!!!! wow guess i’m a little hyper.

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