The first international beauty contest judged by "machines" was supposed to use objective factors such as facial symmetry and wrinkles to identify the most attractive contestants. After Beauty.AI launched this year, roughly 6,000 people from more than 100 countries submitted photos in the hopes that artificial intelligence, supported by complex algorithms, would determine that their faces most closely resembled "human beauty". But when the results came in, the creators were dismayed to see that there was a glaring factor linking the winners: the robots did not like people with dark skin. Out of 44 winners, nearly all were white, a handful were Asian, and only one had dark skin. That's despite the fact that, although the majority of contestants were white, many people of color submitted photos, including large groups from India and Africa.
After the somewhat awkward experience last month of having an AI Twitter bot go full-on racist in a few hours once it interacted with humans, Microsoft have released a new AI experiment on to the internet - CaptionBot. The idea is that you upload a photo to the service, and it tries to automatically generate a caption that describes what the algorithm sees. You are then able to rate how accurately it has detected what was on display. It learns from the rating, and in theory, the captions get better. The bot, from Microsoft's Cognitive Services team, is the result of some hefty research into how to model objects in photographs so that a computer can understand them.