Here’s something interesting for you to ponder over – researchers at Stanford University have developed an artifical intelligence that can spot a person’s sexual orientation.

In a peer-reviewed study conducted by Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinski, an AI extracted features from over 35 000 facial images and fed them into a database.

The pair then fed VGG-Face 130 741 images of 36 630 men and 170 360 images of 38 593 women from a popular dating site which makes its profiles public. The VGG-Face software converts images into strings of numbers.

Once this was done the strings were fed into a predictive algorithm and the AI was tasked with determining the sexual orientation of a person when presented with an image.

The AI was able to correctly guess whether a person was straight or gay with 81 percent accuracy. This increased to 91 percent when the machine was given five images.

The process is less adept at guessing the sexual orientation of women, however. When presented with one image it guessed correctly 74 percent of the time, and 83 percent of the time when presented with five images.

This research does not meant hat one can simply look at a person and determine whether they are straight or gay, in fact quite the opposite.

“Our results in no way indicate that sexual orientation can be determined from faces by humans,” say the researchers. “Humans are rather inaccurate when distinguishing between images of gay homosexual individuals.”

What is rather interesting is that this research suggests something homophobes might not like – people are born gay.

The researchers suggest that hormones which are present during the development of a fetus, especially testosterone, might be involved in determining sexual orientation.

The paper is set to appear in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology but you can read the preprint and we strongly suggest you do. It’s a fascinating (and at times scary) look at how AI is being used.


[Image – CC BY 0 Public Domain Pixabay]