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Opening Arguments

Grin and bear it

Looks like Indiana was on the cutting edge with its "no-smiles" policy for driver's licenses:

Stopping driver's license fraud is no laughing matter: Four states are ordering people to wipe the grins off their faces in their license photos.

"Neutral facial expressions" are required at departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia. That means you can't smile, or smile very much. Other states may follow.

[. . .]

Face-recognition software can fail to match two photos of the same person if facial expressions differ in each photo, says Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Takeo Kanade.

Dull expressions "make the comparison process more accurate," says Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV, whose no-smile policy took effect in March.

Indiana, it's nice to know, doesn't completely ban mirthful expressions. "Slight smiles" are allowed; we just can't "grin really large." Whose job is it, I wonder, to spot that prefectly realized dull expression right in between a slight smile and a really large grin? What if I can't find that sweet spot the next time I have to get my license renewed? Do I have to wait until I feel a slight smile emerging then rush to the BMV and try to get my picture taken before I think of something that really tickles me? Maybe each office should



Bob G.
Tue, 05/26/2009 - 6:14pm

If you feel the "need" to refrain from smiling while having that driver license picture taken, just look around at all the people you KNOW don't deserve to be driving ANYTHING weighing over 20 pounds...

Then again, that MIGHT cause you to fall on the floor laughing, which I'm sure will require a picture "do-over".