How Old Do I Look: Microsoft's age-guessing app is terrible at guessing how old celebrities are, too

A Microsoft computer has spent the morning making people feel bad about themselves — but it says terrible things about famous people as well

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 05 May 2015 12:44
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Age might be just a number, but when that number is generated by a supposedly highly-intelligent algorithm it can cause more than a few hurt feelings. But the machine also thinks that the 18-year-old Lorde is actually 31, and that its 59-year-old father, Bill Gates, is 77.

Many have worried that the app, which can be found at how-old.net, has suggested that they look much older than they are. But so does everyone, it seems — apart from those lucky souls like Madonna, who is identified as less than half her actual age.

Madonna seems to have done best out of the app, which identified pictures of her as somewhere between 27 and 31. In actual fact, she’s 56.

Kanye West, who Madonna described as the "black Madonna", does at least to have picked up whatever magic allows the singer to fool the computer. He's identified as 32, despite being 37.

Kanye's colleague, Jay Z, does much less well out of the app. But it only identifies him as one year older than his 45 years.

But whatever trick American celebrities have found doesn't seem to have worked for much less glamorous British celebrities.

The Greens' Natalie Bennett is 76, according to the app. But she's not: she's 49.

And the tool shows no affiliation in those that it says are much older than they are. It reckons Nigel Farage is 66 — but it's actually been 51 years since he arrived on the planet.

(The lesson, perhaps, is to avoid the stresses and strains of becoming a British politician and instead aim for stardom. At least, if you want to fool the How Old Do I Look app.)

Microsoft has said that the app is still in development, and that it is continuing to learn as it is being used. But some have suggested that the app’s ages might be almost random and all those insulted people and celebrities might be part of a huge, terrifying experiment by Microsoft.

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