A.I. can Now Detect GENDER from a your PHOTO

A.I., Gender

Two Stanford University research engineers have thrown a good spurt of gasoline on the debates of sexual orientation and gender.

Yilung Wang and Michael Kosinski say they have developed a facial recognition program that classifies gay and straight people.

They say that this technology is capable of succeeding in 81% of the cases of gay men and in 71% in the case of lesbians.

Facial recognition technology has had a great development in the last decade. In fact, the last iPhone X uses it to unlock the cell phone and give life to the emoji.

Previous work to those of the two Stanford researchers has already applied it to relate physical characteristics to violent behavior or pedophilia.

Already in the eighteenth century, phrenology, an old pseudo-scientific theory with no validity at present, affirmed the possible determination of character and personality traits, as well as criminal tendencies, based on the shape of the skull, head, and features.

Despite the prestige of that theory, with new computer tools, scientists are trying to give it a new air, even if that means getting into a dangerous terrain.

Despite the prestige of that theory, with new computer tools, scientists are trying to give it a new air, even if that means getting into a dangerous terrain.

Wang and Kosinski, the project leaders, began by collecting 130,741 photographs of people on a dating website. They used this platform since at the same time one could find the sexual orientation of each individual through his profile.

After filtering the images, they reached a total of 35,326 photos of men and women (all Caucasian) both homosexual and heterosexual (50/50%).

To prove that it was possible to establish a pattern between facial features and sexual orientation, they used a face recognition program known worldwide as VGG-Face.

Feeding him with photos of people and their sexual orientation, and after reprogramming by means of algorithms, they managed to determine if a man or a woman was homosexual when analyzing the proportions of his face, facial expressions and the cut of his hair, beard or mustache.

The results showed that by computer algorithms it is possible to determine the sexual orientation of a person, hitting 81% in men and 71% in women.

While in another test that put people to determine if someone was homosexual by means of a photo, there was only a precision of 61% in men and 54% in women.

It was found that the most influential traits for classification in men were the nose, eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, hairline, and jaw.

While in women it was established by the nose, the edges of the mouth, hair, and neck.

A gay man, according to the study, would have jaw or small jaw, less facial hair, thin eyebrows, longer nose and broader front.

This would apply in contrast to a lesbian woman, who would also wear her hair darker and would opt to smile less in the photos.

Software was used to make composite faces. On left face ‘least likely’ to be homosexual, and center are faces ‘most likely’ to be homosexual. Composite faces and the average facial landmarks (right) were built by averaging faces classified as most and least likely to be gay. (Image Credit: Stanford University)

Ignacio Zarante, a geneticist at Javeriana University, uses facial recognition software in some of his projects to find genetic diseases.

For him, finding a phenotype (physical characteristics) so complex, as to represent homosexuality through these technologies, is very difficult.

That is why he believes that the study conducted by the Americans has no solid basis to support these claims.

To his knowledge, the sexual orientation of a person has not been found to be linked to the biological structure of the person.

As might be expected, research has generated mixed opinions around the world.

According to the Guardian newspaper, this week, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Glaad, two of the largest organizations that protect the LGBTI community, called the study “dangerous” and “junk science”.

“I imagined it would raise the alarm; now I’m paying the price, “Kosinski told The New York Times. He mentions that he has had meetings with the campus police upon receiving a large number of death threats.

In some cultures, homosexuals suffer from physical and mental abuse on the part of their families, neighbors and even the government.

Today in eight countries, including Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, homosexuality is punished with the death penalty.

That is why a system that can determine the sexual orientation of a person, could be hurting many people. Something that has taken into account the filmmakers of the study and that they reiterate frequently.

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