The Guardian: New AI can guess whether you’re gay or straight from a photograph

Artificial intelligence can accurately guess whether people are gay or straight based on photos of their faces, according to new research that suggests machines can have significantly better “gaydar” than humans.

The study from Stanford University – which found that a computer algorithm could correctly distinguish between gay and straight men 81% of the time, and 74% for women – has raised questions about the biological origins of sexual orientation, the ethics of facial-detection technology, and the potential for this kind of software to violate people’s privacy or be abused for anti-LGBT purposes.

The machine intelligence tested in the research, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and first reported in the Economist, was based on a sample of more than 35,000 facial images that men and women publicly posted on a US dating website. The researchers, Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang, extracted features from the images using “deep neural networks”, meaning a sophisticated mathematical system that learns to analyze visuals based on a large dataset.

The research found that gay men and women tended to have “gender-atypical” features, expressions and “grooming styles”, essentially meaning gay men appeared more feminine and vice versa. The data also identified certain trends, including that gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses and larger foreheads than straight men, and that gay women had larger jaws and smaller foreheads compared to straight women.

Human judges performed much worse than the algorithm, accurately identifying orientation only 61% of the time for men and 54% for women. When the software reviewed five images per person, it was even more successful – 91% of the time with men and 83% with women. Broadly, that means “faces contain much more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived and interpreted by the human brain”, the authors wrote.

  • Brett_McS

    “gay men had larger foreheads than straight men, and gay women had smaller foreheads compared to straight women”.

    It’s well established that gay men have a higher average IQ than the host population. Are lesbians dumber than average (as well as fatter and uglier)?

    • PaulW

      Good question. An obvious aside: Assuming that gay men are on average more intelligent than non-gay men, and that now in our society, gays are no longer “forced” to marry and have offspring, will society’s average intelligence decline (due to fewer gays reproducing themselves and their IQ advantage)?

    • J. C.

      `gay men have a higher average IQ than the host population`

      Really??? Because Trudeau`s not very smart…

      • Brett McS

        He’s fake gay.

  • tom_billesley

    Sharia courts will buy the software.

    • Hard Little Machine


  • Hard Little Machine

    But there are 37 genders and 50 different sexual proclivities. What about people who have sex with trans furries?

  • Hard Little Machine

    Every woman is 3 stiff drinks away from bi curious

  • mauser 98
  • andycanuck

    Is it named “Gaydar”?

  • Cat-astrophe

    Boy, this is very similar to the scientific head measuring of the 1800’s. I sure hope it doesn’t go awry…..

  • Tooth&Claw

    It’s never the face that gives it away for me. It’s the tone of voice, the language used and the mannerisms.

  • El Martyachi ✓ᴴᵉˡᶦᶜᵒᵖᵗᵉʳᶦˢᵗ

    Let’s save the AI some work: if ya read the Guardian yer gay.