An algorithm deduced the sexuality of people on a dating site with up to 91% accuracy, raising tricky ethical questions


An illustrated depiction of facial analysis công nghệ similar to that used in the experiment. Illustration: Alamy
An illustrated depiction of facial analysis công nghệ similar lớn that used in the experiment. Illustration: Alamy

Artificial intelligence can accurately guess whether people are gay or straight based on photos of their faces, according to new retìm kiếm that suggests machines can have significantly better “gaydar” than humans.

The study from Stanford University – which found that a computer algorithm could correctly distinguish between gay & straight men 81% of the time, và 74% for women – has raised questions about the biological origins of sexual orientation, the ethics of facial-detection công nghệ, và the potential for this kind of software to violate people’s privacy or be abused for anti-LGBT purposes.

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The machine intelligence tested in the research, which was published in the Journal of Personality và Social Psychology and first reported in the Economist, was based on a sample of more than 35,000 facial images that men and women publicly posted on a US dating website. The researchers, Michal Kosinski và Yilun Wang, extracted features from the images using “deep neural networks”, meaning a sophisticated mathematical system that learns khổng lồ analyze visuals based on a large dataphối.

The research found that gay men & women tended to lớn have sầu “gender-atypical” features, expressions & “grooming styles”, essentially meaning gay men appeared more feminine & vice versa. The data also identified certain trends, including that gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses and larger foreheads than straight men, and that gay women had larger jaws & smaller foreheads compared to lớn straight women.

Human judges performed much worse than the algorithm, accurately identifying orientation only 61% of the time for men và 54% for women. When the software reviewed five sầu images per person, it was even more successful – 91% of the time with men & 83% with women. Broadly, that means “faces contain much more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived & interpreted by the human brain”, the authors wrote.

The paper suggested that the findings provide “strong support” for the theory that sexual orientation stems from exposure to lớn certain hormones before birth, meaning people are born gay và being queer is not a choice. The machine’s lower success rate for women also could tư vấn the notion that female sexual orientation is more fluid.

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While the findings have sầu clear limits when it comes to gender & sexuality – people of color were not included in the study, & there was no consideration of transgender or bisexual people – the implications for artificial intelligence (AI) are vast and alarming. With billions of facial images of people stored on social truyền thông media sites và in government databases, the researchers suggested that public data could be used khổng lồ detect people’s sexual orientation without their consent.

It’s easy to lớn imagine spouses using the giải pháp công nghệ on partners they suspect are closeted, or teenagers using the algorithm on themselves or their peers. More frighteningly, governments that continue to lớn prosecute LGBT people could hypothetically use the giải pháp công nghệ to lớn out and target populations. That means building this kind of software & publicizing it is itself controversial given concerns that it could encourage harmful applications.

But the authors argued that the technology already exists, và its capabilities are important khổng lồ expose so that governments & companies can proactively consider privacy risks & the need for safeguards and regulations.

“It’s certainly unsettling. Like any new tool, if it gets into the wrong hands, it can be used for ill purposes,” said Niông chồng Rule, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronlớn, 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 khổng lồ them, that’s really bad.”

Rule argued it was still important lớn develop & kiểm tra this technology: “What the authors have done here is to make a very bold statement about how powerful this can be. Now we know that we need protections.”

Kosinski was not immediately available for bình luận, but after publication of this article on Friday, he spoke to lớn the Guardian about the ethics of the study and implications for LGBT rights. The professor is known for his work with Cambridge University on psychometric profiling, including using Facebook data to make conclusions about personality. Donald Trump’s campaign & Brexit supporters deployed similar tools to target voters, raising concerns about the expanding use of personal data in elections.

In the Stanford study, the authors also noted that artificial intelligence could be used to explore links between facial features và a range of other phenomena, such as political views, psychological conditions or personality.

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This type of research further raises concerns about the potential for scenarios lượt thích the science-fiction movie Minority Report, in which people can be arrested based solely on the prediction that they will commit a crime.

“AI can tell you anything about anyone with enough data,” said Brian Brackeen, CEO of Kairos, a face recognition company. “The question is as a society, vì chưng we want to lớn know?”

Brackeen, who said the Stanford data on sexual orientation was “startlingly correct”, said there needs khổng lồ be an increased focus on privacy and tools khổng lồ prsự kiện the misuse of machine learning as it becomes more widespread và advanced.

Rule speculated about AI being used khổng lồ actively discriminate against people based on a machine’s interpretation of their faces: “We should all be collectively concerned.”