Insidious “corrective” image filters allow app creators to dictate beauty standards

Portrait thought to be of Simonetta Carraneo Vespucci by Sandro Botticelli c.1480-1485.

In the 15th century, Florentine statesman and all-round bigwig Lorenzo d’Medici (also modestly known as “Lorenzo The Magnificent”) made some pretty outspoken comments on the looks and deportment of the ideal Italian Renaissance beauty. Despite himself being described as “quite strikingly ugly“, Lorenzo was rather specific on what should be considered desirable, basing his high standards on celebrated noblewoman Simonetta Carraneo Vespucci. He writes:

of an attractive and ideal height; the tone of her skin, white but not pale, fresh but not glowing; her demeanor was grave but not proud, sweet and pleasing, without frivolity or fear. Her eyes were lively and her gaze restrained, without trace of pride or meanness; her body was so well proportioned, that among other women she appeared dignified…in walking and dancing…and in all her movements she was elegant and attractive; her hands were the most beautiful that Nature could create. She dressed in those fashions which suited a noble and gentle lady…” (Commento del magnifico Lorenzo De’ Medici sopra alcuni de’ suoi sonetti)

Clearly beauty standards have evolved since Lorenzo’s time — and thankfully we’re probably less concerned about the restraint of our gaze and the beauty of our hands — but this notion of one common beauty ideal for women, dictated from without, unfortunately persists. And while Renaissance women agonized about achieving Simonetta’s bodily proportions and alabaster skin, their 21st century counterparts are turning to technological, and even surgical correction to emulate the new, algorithmically dictated standards for attention-worthy good looks.

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Here’s How AI Could Diagnose You With Psychopathy

We’re fast becoming accustomed to clandestine observation. Quietly, in the background, algorithms have been watching our facial expressions, features, and behavioral mannerisms to try to establish a supposed “understanding” of such things as our job suitability, our sexuality, what “subcategory of person” we fit, and even our propensity for criminality

Of course, that’s on top of the mammoth and ongoing analysis of the vast digital footprints Big Tech companies use to fuel their hit-and-miss predictions. 

But what about an AI tool that can diagnose your mental health — or more specifically, whether you’re a psychopath — just by looking at you?  

Well folks, here we are. 

A study, Quantifying the psychopathic stare: Automated assessment of head motion is related to antisocial traits in forensic interviews, was recently published in the Journal of Research in Personality, which shows “promising” signs of just such a technology. 

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