Bill Gate’s company, Microsoft is “testing” a new website that, when shown a photo of your face, guesses your age. It has become viral across social media and the internet over the past two days.
It’s being lauded as “fun” and “funny” by such respected publications as The Wall Street Journal. But beneath all of the humor of the WSJ blog post is an interesting note embedded in the article: “Kidding aside, Microsoft is working through complicated stuff here: machine learning and data analysis. In a blog post, the company said it was just “playing around” with new face-detection tools—the site took about a day to create—and decided to ask a handful of people to take part.“
While many people are having fun joining in with Microsoft to “play around” with their website, the light-heartedness and tone of the Wall Street Journal article makes many wonder – is this just a tool to help condition us to get used to facial recognition technology in the works for future military and law enforcement activity? Just last week, we learned about the new GE “smart street lights” which do almost everything but provide light on a sidewalk. They film, record, hear, and report all activity you do so long as you are near them (read our report on them here).
The Wall Street Journal Reports in their article “Brace Yourself: Microsoft Wants to Guess How Old You Are”:
Microsoft has created a website that analyzes a photo of a person’s face and guesses in seconds how old the subject is.
It’s quite cool, and terribly offensive in the best way possible. The first photo I uploaded said no human being could be detected. I consider this the best photo I have ever been in, though in fairness I am looking away from the camera. The next one overshot my age by 15 years. I wish the brains behind the site spent a little more time taking in my features.
I’d be offended, but it’s not just me. A colleague’s infant was determined to be well into middle age—must be an old soul. Personal tech reviewer Joanna Stern was determined to be 24 (of course). She’s actually … never mind.
The Verge cleverly quipped “Microsoft has created a website that tells you how old you aren’t.”
Kidding aside, Microsoft is working through complicated stuff here: machine learning and data analysis. In a blog post, the company said it was just “playing around” with new face-detection tools—the site took about a day to create—and decided to ask a handful of people to take part. Tens of thousands did. The upshot is an ability to better execute on data gathering and analysis in real time. In the end, all roads lead to Big Data.
You don’t have to submit a photo of yourself. (Gollum didn’t) but it does have to weigh in at under 3 MB. While Microsoft is working out the kinks, let the fun begin.
So what do you think? Is Bill Gates’ company just having some innocent fun, or is there something deeper there? Are you going to submit your photo into their new database?
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