Why An AI-Judged Beauty Contest Picked Nearly All White Winners

Beauty pageants have always been political. After all, what speaks more strongly to how we see each other than which physical traits we reward as beautiful, and which we code as ugly? It wasn’t until 1983 that the Miss America competition crowned a black woman as the most beautiful woman in the country. So what if we replaced human judges with machines? A robot would ideally lack a human’s often harmful social biases. As shallow as the whole thing is, would a computer at least be able to see past skin colour and look at, potentially, more universal markers of attractiveness? Or hell, even appreciate a little melanin? Not really, as it turns out. Beauty.ai, an initiative by the Russia and Hong Kong-based Youth Laboratories and supported by Microsoft and…


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