Have you ever wanted a robot to validate your attractiveness? Newsflash: there is now an international beauty contest judged by robots, Tech Crunch reports, so if relentless Internet judgment from humans isn't enough for you, robots are here to join in. The online beauty contest, entitled Beauty.AI, allows participants to join the contest by submitting a selfie on their app. The selfie is then analyzed by various facial recognition algorithms, fine-tuned to examine age-related changes to the human face. The artificial intelligence, or "robot jury", then determines the impact of age-related changes across age, nationality, and gender. The result? Robots select the most attractive man and woman according to... science?
If all this sounds like a really clever marketing ploy to you, you're right: it is. Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, a consultant for the contest and CEO of Insilco Medicine, told Tech Crunch that organizers hope to use the contest as a launching pad for a series of apps that will enable users to track changes to their appearance as they use anti-aging products. "We will be launching an application called RYNKL in the coming weeks if all goes well," Zhavoronkov told the website. "[RYNKL] will allow users to take standardized selfies periodically to analyze the changes in ‘wrinkleness’ of their face in the context of their lifestyle, behavior, and other interventions.”
Although Beauty.AI seems to imply that robots are impartial judges of beauty, the fact of the matter is that beauty standards vary widely by culture and through time — just look at how the "ideal" Hollywood starlet has evolved over the last century. In an attempt to improve the standards of the robot jury, Beauty.AI is soliciting algorithm submissions from computer data scientists to incorporate into the programming. According to the contest terms on Beauty.AI's website, participants are expected to use certain types of coding, but are given the freedom to use "any criteria you like" for determining beauty. Suggestions include: "how old a person looks, celebrity similarity, face symmetry, face area proportions, dark circles under the eyes, skin health: freshness, shining, moisture, elasticity, wrinkleless, other skin conditions, etc."
Although it would appear that crowdsourcing the robot jury would result in the actual selection of the fairest of them all, it most likely will not. It's no secret that there are fewer women in STEM fields than men, and the trend holds true for computer scientists. Fortune reported last April that only 18 percent of computer science graduates are female in the United States. That means that submissions — at least those from the United States — are more likely to be submitted by men. This perpetuates the time-old patriarchal tradition of men determining standards of beauty. In the end, this high-tech beauty contest is no different than the rest, robots and all.
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Images: Beauty.AI/Youtube, Giphy