When artificial intelligence judges a beauty contest, white people win

As humans cede more and more control to algorithms, whether in the courtroom or on social media, the way they are built becomes increasingly important. The foundation of machine learning is data gathered by humans, and without careful consideration, the machines learn the same biases of their creators. Sometimes bias is difficult to track, but other times it’s clear as the nose on someone’s face—like when it’s a face the algorithm is trying to process and judge. An 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), solicited 600,000 entries by saying they would be graded by artificial intelligence. The algorithm would look at wrinkles, face symmetry, amount of pimples and blemishes,…


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