New AI can tell from a photo if a person is "straight" or "gay"

The computer guessed correctly about the men's sexual orientations 81% of the time and was right about the women's sexual orientations 74% of the time, the researchers said.
By Joseph Scalise | Sep 11, 2017
A new computer at Stanford University appears to have better "gaydar" than some humans. In a study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology, researchers Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang said that the computer scanned images of faces of men and women on a dating site and guessed with surprising accuracy whether each person was heterosexual or homosexual.
The computer guessed correctly about the men's sexual orientations 81% of the time and was right about the women's sexual orientations 74% of the time, the researchers said. Its accuracy improved when it reviewed five images of each personthen it correctly guessed the orientations of 91% of the men and 83% of the women.
In their paper, Kosinski and Wang wrote that the findings offer "strong support" for the theory that sexual orientation arises from chemical processes that we undergo before birth and that being gay, lesbian, or queer is not a choice. They noted that the software observed a prevalence of "gender-atypical" features, expressions, and grooming styles among gay men and lesbiansfor example, gay men had narrower jaws and larger foreheads than straight men while lesbians had larger jaws and smaller foreheads than straight women.
The researchers floated the possibility of using the AI to explore links between facial features and other personal traits, such as political views, personality, or psychological conditions. Other researchers, however, expressed concerns that the technology could be misused to profile people or to reveal their gender identities without their consent.
"If you can start profiling people based on their appearance, then identifying them and doing horrible things to them, that's really bad," said Nick Rule, an said Nick Rule, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, who has published research on the science of gaydar.

---

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic.