This Site Guesses How Old You Are

Photo: Courtesy How-Old.net
You'd think the brilliant minds at Microsoft would have their hands full dreaming up ways virtual reality can be used in real life — or, at least, how to make Windows suck less. Apparently, they also have time to play around with machine-learning algorithms on photos, so they can guess how old you are based on a selfie.

Microsoft's Machine Learning team used the company's Face API (which detects faces in photographs) to create a site, How-old.net, where you can upload a photo of yourself (or anyone, for that matter), and it will guess your gender and age. The results are sometimes accurate...and sometimes not.

I uploaded three photos of myself: One shot in a coffee shop, not smiling, wearing mascara and very light makeup; one #gymselfie with zero makeup, lots of sweat, and a flushed face; and one shot with medium-level makeup, including liquid eyeliner. In the first, it guessed I was 27 (without revealing my exact age, this first guess was the closest); in the eyeliner-shot it estimated 22 (how flattering!); and in the gym shot, I aged all the way to 39. Note to self: A little eyeliner goes a long way?

Daily Dot reporter Selena Larson had a similar experience with Microsoft's site guessing a range of ages for her photos. 

Photo: Courtesy How-Old.net
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Developer David Barnard tested out How-old.net using one of those self-enhancement apps, and found that the resulting image shaved 13 years off his actual visage, according to the site's algorithmic analysis.
Photo: Courtesy How-Old.net
But, for some reason or another, the site had issues with Mark Karayan's photo. Despite a full beard, it thought he was 9 years old. Perhaps it's the boyish smile?

Photo: Courtesy How-Old.net
It seems that for many people, the exact age this site guesses is wrong — but often, it does get close. Perhaps Microsoft should add a feedback button to let us share how old people in uploaded photos actually are.

How-old.net was actually part of an experiment looking at real-time usage analytics and face analysis. You can give it a spin for yourself. Let us know if it's eerily accurate, or if it thinks your millennial vibe is more baby-boomer. You can share your results with the hashtag #HowOldRobot. 
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