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Published August 23, 2019 | Version Accepted pre-print
Conference paper Open

What is Beautiful Continues to be Good: People Images and Algorithmic Inferences on Physical Attractiveness

  • 1. Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies (RISE) Nicosia Cyprus
  • 2. Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies (RISE)Nicosia Cyprus and Cyprus Center for Algorithmic TransparencyOpen University of Cyprus Nicosia Cyprus

Description

Image recognition algorithms that automatically tag or moderate content are crucial in many applications but are increasingly opaque. Given transparency concerns, we focus on understanding how algorithms tag people images and their inferences on attractiveness. Theoretically, attractiveness has an evolutionary basis, guiding mating behaviors, although it also drives social behaviors. We test image-tagging APIs as to whether they encode biases surrounding attractiveness. We use the Chicago Face Database, containing images of diverse individuals, along with subjective norming data and objective facial measurements. The
algorithms encode biases surrounding attractiveness, perpetuating the stereotype that “what is beautiful is good.” Furthermore, women are often misinterpreted as men. We discuss the algorithms’ reductionist nature, and their potential to infringe on users’ autonomy and well-being, as well as the ethical and legal considerations for developers. Future services should monitor algorithms’ behaviors given their prevalence in the information ecosystem and influence on media.

Notes

This work has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 739578 and under Grant Agreement No 810105 and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus through the Directorate General for European Programmes, Coordination and Development.

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Additional details

Funding

RISE – Research Center on Interactive Media, Smart System and Emerging Technologies 739578
European Commission
CyCAT – Cyprus Center for Algorithmic Transparency 810105
European Commission