Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Friday, 1 May 2015

How Old Is A New App That Will Tell You How Old You Actually Look

How Old Is A New App That Will Tell You How Old You Look. Kinda.

The Debrief: MSN’s got an age-finding app and the mistakes make for near-insulting jibes…

Never has age-shaming been more digital, because MSN have got an app where you can upload your photo and it’ll give a guess as to your gender and your age.

You go to the website and upload the photo from your camera roll, and after a few seconds of identifying your face, it will generate its answer, flashing up with a square around your face and a number. Now, I’ve not been too lucky with this, as the first photo we uploaded was me feeling really hungover at the weekend. The age we were given? 62….

How Old

Now, MSN’s app does like to apologise even if it doesn’t get it wrong: ‘Sorry if we didn’t quite get the age and gender right – we are still improving this feature’

But 62? So I tried another photo, this time with my mum, who I think looks particularly youthful for 61.

How Old

Anyway, the app guessed me right at 27 (even though I was 26 when the photo was taken) but flattered my mum with 56. Not only is it four years younger than her actual age, but it’s Madonna’s age and who doesn’t want to be Madonna’s age to have such a great cohort defying what’s expected of women around that time in their lives.

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The best thing I’ve seen on the app? Well, in that photo, it gauged that my Instagram profile shot, admittedly taken on a very sunny day, pegs me at 13!

Now, while the age-shaming feels a lot less sinister when the app’s putting you at just, say, in your early teens when you’re in your mid-late 20s (that is what 27 is, right?), there is something pretty creepy about it.

Because, eventually, we all know what it’s for, right? If you click through the link to find out more, it goes to a pretty boring page written by two Engineers in Information Management and Machine Learning at Microsoft.

But, long and short of it, by uploading our photos, we’re training the system that will one day be used to recognise our faces at any point. Like, you could walk past a billboard, the billboard could sense your face and then show you an advert it thinks you need. Or someone could see you across the train, fancy you a bit so take a photo and then come across your Facebook page.

It’s all fun and games right now, but one day it’s going to get dark, really dark. That, or I’m just pissed off that the app had me at 62.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Age Shaming, APProval, Tech