How old are you? How old does your computer think you are? That is the question Corom Thompson and Santosh Balasubramanian over at Microsoft have been thinking about. With Big Data it probably is not too tough for a computer to crunch the websites you visit and the purchases you make online to spit out a reasonable guess for your age. That’s how targeted advertising works. But what if computers only had pictures of you? Behold how-old.net. Just like that carnival “game,” can a computer guess your age by just how you look?
Um…I guess not. But this was only one trial, so I decided to try again…seventy-five more times. All with pictures of myself. This quickly devolved into quite a narcissistic project. This involved delving into the photos on my Facebook profile which proved to be both a hilarious and horrific endeavor. After shamefully mining my own photographs I ran a simple regression to get a rough idea of how the algorithm was doing.
Just for fun I decided to break the images into pictures where I was wearing glasses and pictures where I was not. If the algorithm is reading facial features glasses could be affecting the results. This divided the images almost exactly in half.