Oh, Waldo. You bobble-hatted, cane-wielding, candy-cane-looking fuck. How you’ve taunted us across the years, with your smug little smile, your adventurous spirit, your ability to blend into overcrowded settings despite the fact that you dress like Santa Claus’ nerdy little nephew. How far have you set humanity back, little man, as we waste thousands upon thousands of hours a year searching for you? How many children have you forced into glasses with your eye-strain-inducing habits? How many have you killed, Waldo? When does justice find you at last?
Maybe today, with a little help from our good friend, The Machine. The above video was produced by “creative agency” Redpepper, showcasing what might be the first good, practical use for AI ever constructed: Finding Waldo in roughly 5 seconds, then pointing at his face with a weird little baby hand. According to the video description, the arm uses Google’s Auto ML Vision and a model trained with multiple pictures of Martin Hanford’s elusive creation in order to ID him in various pages of the Where’s Waldo books, then give him a poke. (Fun fact: The formal name for a robot arm is also “waldo,” meaning this is functionally a video of a waldo finding Waldo.)
Now, is this technology both a) bad sportsmanship and b) utterly terrifying in its implications for wider applications of facial recognition software and the likelihood of a dystopian state in which the government can watch our every move? Well, sure. But we got him, damn it. That’s gotta be worth it.