Musician Geddy Lee with his mother, an Auschwitz survivor.

Software Creator Links His Family to Holocaust Photos Via Algorithm

It is safe to say that on a daily basis brings you stories about new applications for using AI. Well from an article we found on comes a story about facial recognition being used on World War 2 photographs and identifying the faces found there. It was written by a software engineer who has created an amazing link between AI and the faces found in pictures of the Holocaust

There are very few survivors still alive from that conflict but their relatives are. And the families that came from those people perhaps are not aware of their own family connection to that gruesome time in Europe.

While visiting the POLIN museum in 2016, Daniel Patt realized he could be walking by his own relatives without knowing it, so he designed a platform From Numbers to Names.

It is an artificial intelligence-driven facial recognition platform that can scan through photos from prewar Europe and the Holocaust, linking them to people living today.

In fact, Pratt discovered that three of his four grandparents are Holocaust survivors from Poland, and he wants to help his grandmother find photos of the members of her family murdered by the Nazis. And of course, there are millions of Americans that could find the same historic connection.

Currently, N2N’s software — which is free and simple to use — only returns the 10 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.

One of those celebrities that Pratt helped connect to his recent ancestors was Canadian musician Geddy Lee from the band Rush.

There is an interesting interview in the link below with Pratt, in which he explains the why and how he came up with this algorithm. And the best news is the algorithm is free for you to use.

For people coming to the site, they can click on “select an image.” They can then select a file from their computer or phone containing a cropped photo of a single face. Then they can click on the “search” button, which will show them 10 photos containing the most similar faces to the one provided by the user. The software works best when searching using photos that are roughly from the same time period (e.g., pre-1960s).

Pratt has built and financed this project by himself and there is a website at which you can donate to help him on this project. Pratt has a fiscal sponsorship with A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds as well to help cover costs.

So check out the From Numbers to Names platform and see what you might discover about your family’s past and if they can be identified in other photos for you.