Artificial intelligence can tell if a person is gay or straight based on their facial features. According to new research, a computer algorithm can identify the sexual orientation of a person even better than humans do.
The study was carried out by the Stanford University. In the research, thousands of facial images were analyzed, which were publicly posted by men and women. The research suggests that certain features characterize gay people; therefore, it could be proof that people are born gay and that they don’t just choose their sexual orientation.
Gay facial features according to AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) has evolved quickly in the last years, and it has offered tools and knowledge that are almost surreal. It can do a lot of things, from developing super detailed maps or analyzing large volumes of data to detecting if people have cancerous lesions. Right now, AI is still under development, and not even scientists are sure what the scope and limits of AI are. Now, researchers Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang from the University of Stanford are using this technology to identify gay facial features. Because of these results, researchers suggest sexual orientation is linked to genes and hormones and that it is not a choice people make.
According to them, the algorithm identifies the sexual orientation by analyzing the differences in facial structures. The machine analyzed 130,741 images of 36,630 men and 170,360 images of 38,593 women that were downloaded from an American dating site. People publicly and voluntarily posted them. Researchers used “deep neural networks” which are sophisticated mathematical systems used to analyze visual data. They said that gay people tend to have “gender-atypical” features. Gay men seem to look more feminine than usual. Gay men tend to have narrower jaws, larger foreheads, and longer noses while larger jaws and smaller foreheads were identified in gay women when compared to straight women.
According to Dr. Kosinski, AI could be used one day to interpret other traits, such as IQ or political beliefs, which is far beyond the characteristics humans can identify by looking at someone.
Gay man are more identifiable than gay women
According to the study, the machine was able to distinguish between gay and straight men about 91 percent of the times, while it could tell women’s sexual orientation 83 percent of the times. Due to these results, they concluded that the sexual orientation of men is clearer than women’s.
On the other hand, researchers said that the machines have a better “gaydar” than people. Humans who tried to identify the sexual orientation of the people in the images got it right 61 percent of the times when it came to men, and they were able to distinguish between gay and straight women only 54 percent of the times.
“Faces contain much more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived and interpreted by the human brain”, the authors wrote.
It is important to note that images of black people were not included in the research. As well, the machine didn’t consider transgender or bisexual people.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology on Friday.
AI can tell anything about a person with enough data
Certainly, AI can help humans do things that they can’t do. It can be used to identify and analyze whatever and whoever with enough information. However, this kind of appliance leads to wonder about the ethics of facial-detection technology and how this technology could be used to violate the privacy or the rights that people have.
Millions of pictures are taken and uploaded to the different social networks every day, and they can be used to identify traits and characteristic without the people’s consent. For example, people can use this technology to know if their partners hide their real sexual orientation or teenagers could suffer from bullying if their peers use the technology with them. As well, States – where being gay is still seen as a felony – could use this technology to target and prosecute people, so there is a lot of controversy about what this technology could be used for if in the wrong hands.
“It’s certainly unsettling. Like any new tool, if it gets into the wrong hands, it can be used for ill purposes,” said Nick Rule, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, who has published research on the science of gaydar. “If you can start profiling people based on their appearance, then identifying them and doing horrible things to them, that’s really bad.”
Rule also said that everybody should be concerned about this type of technology. On the other hand, Kosinski – who is also recognized for his work on psychometric profiling – raised awareness about the implication this study has for the LGBT rights.
Source: The Guardian