Microsoft recently rolled out How Old Do I Look, an online tool that uses facial recognition technology to tell the age and gender of the people in the photos uploaded on the company’s website how-old.net.
Although the application was sometimes out by several years to decades, people were generally hooked by it. Many of them sent selfies, pictures of their friends, favorite actors, movie characters and even dolls or pets. Some of them found that they looked younger than their real age really was, while others looked decades older than they really were. Others were identified as belonging to the opposite sex, while some didn’t manage to convince the software that there was a real human face in their birthday pic.
Microsoft first unveiled the new product at its BUILD conference where tech experts and social media analysts were surprised to learn that face recognition technology is currently able to detect facial features, tell if there is a group of people in a picture, and even tell if a specific face appears in multiple photos.
The company also planned to roll out a platform called How-Female.net also based on facial recognition technology, but it canceled the project over concerns of a public relations backlash.
How Old Do I Look was publicly released Wednesday and it was a major hit across the world although some of its users are still struggling with plunging self-esteem levels.
The new tool uses cloud-based technology and cutting-edge facial recognition technology for its purposes. If you want a quick and objective answer to the “How old do I really look” question, you should upload a single selfie to see. The results may be disappointing since you may learn that you look “10 years deceased,” as one user put it, or you may be cheered up for the whole day if you learn that you look several years younger according to a machine’s standards.
After 24 hours from the site’s launch, Twitter was flooded with comments on #HowOldRobot results. Some of the users were simply outraged, others deemed facial recognition inaccurate or useless, while others simply had a good laugh.
Nevertheless, the site apologized for potential fails in guessing real age with a simple message – “Sorry if we didn’t quite get the age and gender right – we are still improving this feature.”
The Microsoft developers of the site wrote Thursday in a blog post that the success was far greater than expected. More than 35,000 users (among whom for some obscure reason 29,000 were Turkish) voluntarily uploaded their photos on the site in the first few hours from its launch.
“We were shocked … what a great example of people having fun thanks to the power of ML [Machine Learning]!,”
developers said. They also said that they were impressed that people uploaded their personal photos, rather than using images found on the Internet.
On the other hand, privacy advocates said that the Microsoft’s tool was just another “fun” way to harvest tens of thousands of faces for free for their obscure commercial purposes. Some of them were even concerned that those faces could be matched to other data their site gathers to arrange photos into demographic groups or even types of consumers.
Image Source: CBC