The prospect of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has always been a trippy one. Literary figures like George Orwell, Isaac Asimov, as well as movies like Terminator, Ex-Machina, and the more recent Morgan, have tried to weigh-in the pros and cons of AI extensively. There have been both proponents as well as critics of the concept of machine-intelligence, more latter than the former, because of the inherent bias that is introduced to the machine by its creator.
Perhaps this is what plagued a recently concluded online beauty contest called Beauty.ai, run by Youth Laboratories (that lists big names in tech like Nvidia and Microsoft as “partners and supporters” on the contest website). The contest solicited more than 6,00,000 entries from the world over but the results were overwhelmingly skewed as of the 44 winners, 36 were white and/or of European descent.
Although the machine judges people not based on their faces but patterns of pixels (that form the images uploaded), it still displays an inherent bias on the part of the programmers whose views of beauty, regardless of age, are informed more by their own standards of beauty and perfection, rather than holistic data sets that would and should ultimately be the bases on which the AI passes judgement.
The contest will again be held in October and the programmers have promised to incorporate a better set of codes to make the competition more just. Hopefully, that will happen as promised.
Title image: PB