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. 
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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.
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?
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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