International Beauty Contest to Be Judged Entirely By Robots

Tuesday, 05 January 2016 - 4:00PM
Weird Science
Technology
Robotics
Tuesday, 05 January 2016 - 4:00PM
International Beauty Contest to Be Judged Entirely By Robots
Robots are gaining more and more abilities that are generally thought to be specific to humans, such as composing poetry, scoring above average on an IQ test, and even being bigoted. Now, they're about to cross another milestone, and judge an international beauty pageant. 



The contest, run by Beauty.AI, requires participants to take selfies and submit them to an app. A robot jury then uses very sophisticated facial recognition technology in order to evaluate the photos based on "objective" criteria of beauty, such as facial symmetry and skin health. Of all uses for scientific innovation, reinforcing societal standards of beauty doesn't seem like the greatest idea, but better robots do it than Trump, I suppose.

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"Artificial intelligence systems have already surpassed humans in image recognition, and it is only a matter of time before robots will be able to evaluate human visual appeal, engage in fashion design, and even make perfume," Alexey Shevtsov, co-founder of Youth Laboratories collective, said in a statement. "We decided to build a platform which will help bridge some of the most advanced humans - those who are interested in robot opinion and those developers, who are building intelligent systems to understand the beauty function."
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Aside from the shallowness of this entire endeavor, there might be some seriously problematic "criteria" at work here, as the program is designed to rank people by age group, race, and gender. What the hell does that mean? Does that mean that they're going to have winners in different age groups, like weight classes in wrestling? That, at least, might acknowledge that societal standards of beauty are ageist, but the race part is inexplicable. Beauty standards are often unfairly Eurocentric, but this seems to play into that rather than combat it.

I can't say for sure, but it seems that they're not too concerned about combatting prejudices, considering that the contest is sponsored by organizations involved in the anti-aging industry. The ultimate goal is to create technology that will allow people to regularly judge how different products and lifestyle choices are affecting the attractiveness of their faces. Imagine a world where people can track exactly how attractive they are at any given moment (and are constantly sharing their scores on Facebook). 

To be fair, Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD and CEO of Insilco Medicine, Inc, wants to use this superficiality to make people care about their overall health:

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"People may not care about how to extend their lifespans, but they definitely care about the way they look," Zhavoronkov told Tech Crunch. "We will be launching an application called RYNKL in the coming weeks if all goes well, which 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."
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Artificial Intelligence
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