A new AI system is being called the cyborg “gaydar” after it effectively guessed if a person was gay or straight with alarming accuracy. The study out of Stanford University found that by using a certain algorithm, the bot can guess your sexuality just by looking at your face. It can distinguish gay and straight men 81% of the time and 74% for women.
According to the Guardian this “…has raised questions about the biological origins of sexual orientation, the ethics of facial-detection technology, and the potential for this kind of software to violate people’s privacy or be abused for anti-LGBT purposes.”
The AI analyzed 35,000 facial images from men and women who posted on online dating websites. “The… data identified certain trends, including that gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses and larger foreheads than straight men, and that gay women had larger jaws and smaller foreheads compared to straight women,” researchers found.
To ensure that the alogithim held true and that the bot wasn’t just randomly guessing, the scientists also had men and women guess if a person is gay or straight—the correct percentage was much lower. Men guessed correctly just 61% of the time with women guessing 54%.
“Technology cannot identify someone’s sexual orientation,” said Jim Halloran, Chief Digital Officer at GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization which along with HRC called on Stanford University and the media to debunk the research.
“What their technology can recognize is a pattern that found a small subset of out white gay and lesbian people on dating sites who look similar. Those two findings should not be conflated.”
Additionally, the study has a major major flaw—it doesn’t include people of color.
Find out so much more about the ethical dilemma this study arises.