Artificial Intelligence can tell whether you're gay or straight from a photo of your face

Artificial Intelligence can tell whether you're gay or straight from a photo of your face

CultureSeptember 12, 2017 By Lindsey Kline

Some people pride themselves on their gaydar. They take a couple minutes of conversation, observing someone’s outfit, posture and hand gestures, and instantly know — he or she is gay as can be.

People with refined gaydars got that way by observing patterns. But no human can compete with the pattern-detection of modern artificial intelligence. Today, Stanford researchers have developed software that can accurately determine whether you’re gay or straight simply by analyzing a picture of your face.

In a study that will soon be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Stanford researchers claim their computer program can pick up on subtle differences in facial structure — differences that even humans can’t perceive.

Analysts relied on a popular American dating web site to download more than 35,000 high-quality images of nearly 15,000 men and women. Then, they used correlations between the users’ facial features and sexualities to develop a prediction model. When the model was run on photos of new men and women, the computer’s gaydar was startlingly superior to humans’.

With five photos of a man, the computer could correctly identify sexuality 91 percent of the time. With five photos of a woman, 83 percent of the time.

Humans, on the other hand, performed far worse. Using the same pictures, humans could tell straight men from gay men 61 percent of the time. For women, only 54 percent of the time. Given a 50/50 shot of guessing correctly, that’s pretty unimpressive.

Certain facial features made all the difference in predictions. The computer recognized that gay men and women tend to have “gender-atypical” features, expressions and grooming styles. Essentially, the faces of gay men were more feminine and the faces of gay women were more masculine.

Some identified trends were more specific. For example, gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses, and larger foreheads than straight men. Gay women had larger jaws and smaller foreheads than straight women.

Researchers suggest these results offer strong scientific support that people are born gay. They posit that exposure to hormones, especially testosterone, during babies’ development in the womb likely influences formation of facial features and sexuality.

Naturally, plenty of people are worried about the harmful ways this technology can be used. Anyone with their hands on the program can detect someone’s sexual orientation without their consent. Spouses could use it on their partners. Teenage bullies could use it on their peers. Tyrannical governments could use it to prosecute LGBT populations.

Almost anything is possible now that we’ve got gaydar down to a science.