Clever new artificial intelligence (AI) technology can tell if a person is gay or straight, though why this breakthrough is useful is anyone’s guess.
Stanford University’s computer algorithm had an 81% hit rate when trying to distinguish between gay and straight men, and a 74% success rate with women.
Researchers set their AI to task looking through 35,000 pictures on a US dating website (and anyone who has ever been on a dating website will know this a horrible thing to get anyone to do, even a machine).
Amazingly, the system didn’t blow up through boredom and instead came back with ‘gender-atypical’ insights, such as gay men overall appearing more feminine, and gay women more masculine.
In contrast, human gay-spotters were rubbish compared to the computer, only identifying homosexual men 61% of the time and women 54%.
And when the machine was given five pics of a person rather than just one, it’s success rate increased dramatically (91% for men and 83% for women).
Though it all sounds at least a little sinister, the researchers have put some spin on their efforts by suggesting the results support the idea that sexual orientation is a genetic, innate kind of thing – rather than a choice, as many of those who struggle with homosexuality never tire of claiming.
However, Nick Rule, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, said that the research is ‘certainly unsettling’. He added sensibly: ‘Like any tool, if it gets into the wrong hands, it can be used for ill purposes. If you start profiling people based on their appearance, then identifying them and doing horrible things to them, that’s really bad.’
What next? Facial recognition AI that can identify who hasn’t paid their council tax? Who hasn’t read War and Peace but claims they have? Who’s homophobic?