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Robo-gaydar: Now an AI computer can tell that you are gay just by looking at you

By James Titcomb in London

Artificial intelligence can tell if a person is gay or straight simply by looking at a picture of their face.

Software developed at the University of Stanford near California’s Silicon Valley, can tell a person’s sexuality more accurately than humans, suggesting a “gaydar” app may not be far away.

The algorithm was able to tell if a man is gay or straight using one picture 81 per cent of the time, and could determine a woman’s sexuality 74 per cent of the time. Human guesses were much less accurate by comparison, correctly guessing 61 per cent of the time for men and 54 per cent for women.

A couple kiss in Trafalgar Square after the annual Pride in London Parade on June 27, 2015 in London, England. Pride in London is one of the world’s biggest LGBT+ celebrations as thousands of people take part in a parade and attend performances at various locations across the city.

When the computer was given five pictures of a person, it answered correctly 91 per cent of the time for men and 83 per cent for women.

The researchers trained the AI using pictures of 36,630 men and 38,593 women taken from online dating profiles of gay and straight people.

The algorithm was able to detect differences in facial structures that may relate to the level of hormones such as testosterone that foetuses are exposed to in the womb, which may determine sexuality, the developers told The Economist.

Facial recognition technology is becoming increasingly speedy, reliable and accurate. It is being included in the latest smartphones as a security feature and used by governments to tackle crime.

The Metropolitan Police used it during the Notting Hill Carnival, albeit with limited success, while crowds around the Champions League final in Cardiff between Real Madrid and Juventus were monitored.

A facial recognition app called FindFace is helping Russian police to identify suspects and last week Chinese police used the technology to spot criminals at a beer festival.

However, the technology could put gay people at risk – homosexuality is illegal in dozens of countries, and hate crimes against have soared in recent years.

The researchers did find that the AI was less reliable outside the confines of the experiment, but when asked to pick people it was most confident were gay, nine out of 10 proved correct.

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