Slippery slopes be damned, Microsoft put a tool on the Web today that guesses the age and gender of a person in a photo. In many cases, the tool was spot on; in others, hilarity ensued.
The site, how-old.net, is a machine-learning test that was originally sent to a few hundred people, according to a blog post explaining the thing. But thousands ended up flocking to the site, in large part because the results can be hilarious. Some examples:
Yes, former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden is a man, but Microsoft missed his age by 20 years. Don’t blame the software, though — I say Oden looks closer to 55.
Surprisingly, making childish facial expressions doesn’t trick Microsoft’s algorithm into thinking the person is younger. Former CEO Steve Ballmer experiences the opposite here — that wagging tongue adds 19 years.
Microsoft’s tool also tells us plenty about fictional characters. The Internet freaked out when Suicide Squad director David Ayer tweeted this image from the upcoming superhero flick of Jared Leto in full Joker getup, but nobody knew Leto was playing a villain eligible to collect full Social Security benefits who also happens to be a woman.
Speaking of gender, Microsoft releasing this toy that guesses people’s gender was ethically questionable. Why? Well …
As many were recently reminded, gender isn’t as simple as male or female.
There are other curiosities that have emerged, none as befuddling as what I’ll call the Ginsburg Quandary. Microsoft’s tool gave back 28 years to the 82-year-old Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But, inexplicably, Ruth Baby Ginsburg’s age was inflated by roughly 700 percent.
I dissent too, R-Baby-G — clearly machine learning has a long way to go.