Imagine an app that could analyze faces to match you with your perfect mate. And maybe the app could evolve into fashion advice and party games. But what if someone also used that same face-reading technology to spy on the American population and create propaganda? These are the techno what-ifs in Philip Wolfson’s timely suspense novel Faces Tell All (Blast Press).
Harold knows he’s an underachiever. He works hard, but he’s been short on self-confidence. That’s why he surprises himself by striking up a conversation with a woman at a bar. It intrigues Trish when he tells her she has a perfect nose. It’s not just a pickup line—he means it literally. He admits he’s had experience in reading faces—he’d studied Chinese Mian Xiang Face Reading techniques.
Although it was a unique way for Harold to introduce himself, Trish considers the power of face-reading, and how they could develop an app to analyze facial characteristics. She and her best friend Jennifer—both working for Spence-Iturbi, Inc., a consultant to high-end fashion houses—wonder if an app could match women with perfect fashion choices, based on their faces. Harold agrees that they have an intriguing idea.
The group furthers their thought processes, realizing that they could instead create a dating app using a mixture of Chinese face reading techniques mixed with Western ideas like Greek geometry and other mathematical processes. There is, after all, a scientific basis for why faces have the power to attract.
“The premise being that your face reveals your character traits, your fitness, and… your fortune. The main market would be matchmaking: trying to find the user a compatible face and personality.”
However, an app is only as good as the software program running it. The team must find a software engineer who is not only an expert at digitally re-creating faces but also well-versed in Chinese medicine and face-reading.
The team travels to California to meet Ma-Chang-Kuo, a software engineer at South California’s University film school, then to Dallas to research an innovative robotics firm. But it becomes clear there might be more powers in play. Are some Chinese nationals they encounter secret operatives for the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), sent to spy on the US population and create propaganda to further Chinese interests?
“The Chinese had completed plans to infiltrate American media and entertainment centers with Chinese ‘visitors’ and Chinese American software technicians and engineers… They would spy and report on Western cinematic technology and… use spy lenses embedded in critical locations to scan the enemy. The propaganda spearhead would counter Western-imposed standards of physical beauty and strength and replace them with the naturally superior images of Chinese and Asian people.”
The team is not sure what they’ve gotten themselves into—a lucrative business or a matter of global security.
Will they be able to create groundbreaking face-reading technology for practical uses by the public, or will they provide the Chinese MSS with a program to enhance their spy games and worldwide propaganda?
The author’s narrative is well-grounded in his personal experience. As a dentist, Wolfson developed an avid interest in the art and science of facial aesthetics. Add to that his studies in international politics and Chinese language, and the premise of his novel was born: “The unique power of the human face not only to reflect our underlying physical and psychological natures but also to affect our conscious and subconscious beliefs and behaviors.”
In a world where cameras are everywhere and law enforcement now uses face-reading technology, Faces Tell All is a timely novel that will have readers considering what their faces reveal and who might be studying them.
Faces Tell All is now available for purchase.
About Philip Wolfson
Philip Wolfson studied Chinese history, politics, spycraft, language and culture at Columbia University in the 1960s, passing the Foreign Service Examination of the United States Information Agency—all of which fueled his ongoing interest in international relations, especially propaganda and cultural warfare. Now, Philip Wolfson’s observations (and yours) provide a new opportunity to explore our preoccupation with faces; how they reflect our health and fitness, our intentions and attitudes; how we size-up each other in social interactions; how faces underlie narcissism, racism and celebrity worship; how they feed our fantasies, hopes and fears—invading our dreams and nightmares.