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AI Gaydar: Computer Can Detect Sexual Orientation Based On Your Face

9 September 2017, 7:03 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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A team of researchers evidently created an artificial intelligence algorithm that can determine whether a person is gay or straight based on facial features alone. Is this yet another AI development we need to worry about?

 AI Gaydar

The topic of AI development is already a controversial one, but it turns out there's a way to make it even more controversial. A team of researchers from Stanford University has apparently created an algorithm that can determine an individual's sexual orientation based on a photo of their face alone.

Though the study has not yet been published, a free preprint of their paper has been released in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The team describes how their algorithm is capable of determining an individual's sexual orientation with 81 percent accuracy for males, and 74 percent accuracy for females.

In comparison, human judges achieved accuracy rates of 61 percent for men and 54 percent for women.

'Most And Least Likely To Be Gay'

As it turns out, the algorithm's already impressive accuracy rates even increased to 91 percent and 83 percent for men and women respectively as it is presented with more photos of the individual.

The team was able to create this algorithm by first extracting facial features from 35,326 facial images gathered from a dating website. The photographs were of individuals between the ages of 18 and 40, with gay and heterosexual individuals equally represented. They then used a deep neural network to create an algorithm that can determine which facial features were classified as "most and least likely to be gay."

Generally, their algorithm recognized that gay men tend to have longer noses and narrower jaws, while gay women tend to have smaller foreheads and larger jaws. Further, other factors such as grooming, amount of makeup, and even the person's smile are also seen as determinants of sexual orientation.

Controversial AI

Naturally, the researchers are aware that their algorithm is a controversial one, especially since the study's findings may be misinterpreted, or it may be used by companies or governments to threaten the privacy and rights of gay men and women. What's more, they state that they are not at all implying that all gay men and women have these specific facial features.

That being said, they state that while the research advances our understanding of the limits of human perception as well as the origins of sexual orientation, more importantly, their research is proof that a technology that can threaten people's privacies may and does exist. Hence, they are calling for legislators to introduce preventative measures to protect people.

As it stands, AI development in different fields is already causing people such as Elon Musk to call for its regulation. Although it's unclear how AI could be harmful to humans, abuse and misuse of the technology is also another cause of concern.

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