How Old Do I Look: The new website to make you feel worse about your appearance

Microsoft's new web app isn't going to do anything for your self-esteem

Doug Bolton
Friday 01 May 2015 13:04
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Twitter user Jason Kottke tested the flaws in the How Old Do I Look app
Twitter user Jason Kottke tested the flaws in the How Old Do I Look app

In the age of Facebook, Instagram and photoshop, spending time on the internet doesn't do anything for your self-esteem. When you're constantly looking at friends' photos of their amazing exotic holidays and liking supermodels' selfies, it's easy to feel like your life just doesn't match up.

Microsoft's new game, How Old Do I Look, which is currently trending on social media, isn't going to change that.

The premise of how-old.net is simple - you go on the site, take a selfie, and through the magic of artificial intelligence, it can tell your age and your gender in the blink of an eye.

Well, almost. It's fairly interesting when it gets it right, but the real magic comes when it goes wrong.

The tool wasn't even really intended to be released to the public. It was intially sent out to a few hundred people by Microsoft engineers, as a test of the company's new face detection API.

At the age of 52, Nigel Farage isn't likely to be flattered by this age analysis.

They were expecting 50 responses. Three hours later, 35,000 people had used the site, and it's currently providing quick giggles to bored people around the world - mostly when the experimental technology gets things wrong.

Naturally, concerns have been raised about the massive amounts of data that people are handing over to Microsoft by using the site - every new user adds to the growing database of faces that Microsoft can analyse.

But when it seems to be getting everybody's age wrong, the data probably isn't that accurate.

The current buzz around the how-old.net couldn't have come at a better time - with the general election just days away, it has been flooded with pictures of sweaty party leaders.

As with any facial recognition software, the site sometimes throws up some fairly unsettling results.

But the site's real draw is the gamble that user take with their self-esteem. A machine saying that you look 21 could make your day, but there's nothing worse than being told that you look like you could claim a state pension by your smartphone.

Still, you're only as young as you feel. If you don't want to be faced with an unflattering assessment of your age, just don't go on the website. There are plenty of other apps out there that will dent your self-esteem, and they'll do it much more accurately.

Now excuse me while I go and cry in the toilet for 25 minutes.

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