Study claiming AIs can tell sexuality based on face shape called into question

A controversial study which claimed that artificial intelligence machines were able to work out someone’s sexuality from their face has been called into question.

Research at Stanford University last year found that human faces have subtle differences which can denote sexuality, IQ and even political views.

Experts Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang claimed that intimate traits in a face can be picked up by machine, which humans are not capable of spotting.

Pride woman

According to The Economist, a programme developed to figure out people’s sexuality from just their faces performed with remarkable accuracy.

The study was based on unproven theories that hormonal differences in the womb can lead to different physical attributes.

But a second look at the study by researchers at Google suggested that there is simply a difference in how straight, gay or bi people take selfies.


Margaret Mitchell and Blaise Aguera y Arcas from Google, and Alex Todorov from Princeton, carried out the new research.

They said: “The obvious differences between lesbian or gay and straight faces in selfies relate to grooming, presentation, and lifestyle - that is, differences in culture, not in facial structure.”

“Heterosexual men tend to take selfies from slightly below, which will have the apparent effect of enlarging the chin, shortening the nose, shrinking the forehead, and attenuating the smile,” researchers found.

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