The Hateful AI?

A new artificial intelligence test shows that it's actually quite easy to pick out who is gay and who is not from facial features; it's just that human brains aren't evolved to do it well. A computer that's told what to look for can do it 91% of the time.
When the software reviewed five images per person, it was even more successful – 91% of the time with men and 83% with women. Broadly, that means “faces contain much more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived and interpreted by the human brain”, the authors wrote.

The paper suggested that the findings provide “strong support” for the theory that sexual orientation stems from exposure to certain hormones before birth, meaning people are born gay and being queer is not a choice. The machine’s lower success rate for women also could support the notion that female sexual orientation is more fluid.
So that's interesting, but it set off some people worrying quietly about the ramifications.
With billions of facial images of people stored on social media sites and in government databases, the researchers suggested that public data could be used to detect people’s sexual orientation without their consent.

It’s easy to imagine spouses using the technology on partners they suspect are closeted, or teenagers using the algorithm on themselves or their peers. More frighteningly, governments that continue to prosecute LGBT people could hypothetically use the technology to out and target populations.
They don't mention any names, but consider how such technology might be employed by Iran. Or Uganda.

4 comments:

Jason said...

Assuming that homosexuality is caused by hormonal conditions in utero, then that opens the possibility for intra-utero hormone-monitoring technology which would allow parents (or, more likely, mothers) to prevent their children from being "born that way". Of course it would also allow mothers to impose homosexuality on their children, which would have interesting consequences if said children then chose to sue their mothers for pre-natal child abuse upon reaching their majorities.

Grim said...

You're behind the times, talking about "mothers" and such. That's the way we used to talk before we realized that anyone with a uterus can have a child, even if he's a man. Or so I read in the news.

Once upon a time intentionally having a child who was gay (had it been possible then) would have been said to be akin to having a child who was deaf, for broadly Aristotelian reasons. That is, the function of human organs was established by nature, such that the end of the ear was to hear, and the end of reproductive organs was reproduction; if the body had ears that did not hear, or was sexually attracted only to others with whom reproduction was impossible, that was reasoned to be a disorder.

That's not true any more. For one thing, gayness is no longer thought to be analogous to a disability. More, though, even in the case of deafness, parents who are deaf and value the culture built around deaf communities do intentionally seek to produce deaf children. No one seeks to stop even that relatively clear example, so far have we fled from Aristotle's reasoning on these cases. It's thought to be a right, instead, to try to further one's culture and way of life.

Now you put that in front of a jury, as you're suggesting, and you might get a different result than you get from putting it in front of judges (or academics). They might buy the claim that it was child abuse, even if they accept and love gay children of their own, just because it exposes the child to so much more hardship.

douglas said...

The conclusion that because facial recognition can find some tendency to relationship to homosexuality is because of in-utero hormonal chemistry seems quite a jump to me. Behavior and exposure to stress and other environmental factors are known to affect hormonal regulation in developing children- for instance, high stress environments and environments saturated with sexuality are known to initiate adolescence earlier. It's not unreasonable to believe that other environmental factors can affect hormonal regulation in the body- and hormonal changes in the developing human at adolescence are well known to initiate structural and biological changes in the body. Anabolic steroid users are known to see significant cranial growth as a result of their use. For all we know, acting gay might trigger hormonal shifts in the body, resulting in facial changes.

Anyway, seems like quite an assumption to make.

Ymar Sakar said...

Soddom and Gomorrah. Don't have to go back into the past to see it in the future now.