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posted by charon on Monday March 20 2017, @10:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the the-very-concept-of-beauty-is-part-of-the-entrenched-patriarchy dept.

For over a year, I worked as a beauty editor, writing and researching about the products, trends, and people that make us want to look a certain way. And as research for many of the stories I wrote, I consulted with dermatologists, plastic surgeons, makeup artists, aestheticians, and more trying to answer a simple question—how can I make myself more conventionally attractive?

"Beauty is confidence," they'd always say, prefacing the real answer. Inevitably, these experts would eventually tell me that you feel more confident, and thus more beautiful, when you look blemish- and wrinkle-free. (Pending on the product they were promoting, this could also incorporate being tanner, or more contoured, or thinner, or paler, or less made up, or curvier, etc.) Regardless of respondents' different aesthetic tastes, everyone seemed to agree—younger is more beautiful. Beauty was about anti-aging.

Naturally, the problem here is the premise. What is beauty beyond someone else defining it? For as long as humanity's obsession with the term has existed, we've equally known about its subjective nature. After all, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is merely a cliché that posits that exact subjectivity of attractiveness.

But what if the beholder can eliminate subjectivity—what if the beholder wasn't a person, but an algorithm? Using machine learning to define beauty could, theoretically, make beauty pageants and rankings like People's annual Most Beautiful in the World list more objective and less prone to human error. Of course, teaching an algorithm to do anything may involve some bias from whoever does the programming, but that hasn't stopped this automated approach from defining equally subjective things like listening preferences or news value (we see you, Facebook et al).

Source:
https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/03/when-beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-robobeholder/


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @10:30PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @10:30PM (#481823)

    Beauty is racist, either conventional or politically correct.

    Beauty depends on the sex of the viewer. (for example, men are less likely to prefer women to be just skin and bones) What is the sex of a computer?

    There is raw beauty and age-adjusted beauty.

    Some like the plastic Barbie look. Some like the all natural look: no shaving, no makeup, not even ear piercings, no hair gel/mousse/spray/perm or color, 3-foot hair, no tattoos, etc.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @01:56AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @01:56AM (#481918)

      Girls with nose rings always look like they have snot dripping from their noses.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @11:22PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @11:22PM (#481843)

    theoretically, make beauty pageants and rankings...more objective and less prone to human error.

    Sorry, but that's the dumbest use of AI I've seen in a while. Beauty is supposed to be subjective, and we want human judges because it's largely an entertainment endeavor.

    It's like going to a bar to hear a robot play the piano because "it's more accurate than a person".

    (Sure, mechanical "player pianos" have been in bars for eons, but that's mostly to save money, not improve customer experience, other than maybe for kids who like the watch the mechanisms run.)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @11:44PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @11:44PM (#481853)

      that's mostly to save money, not improve customer experience

      It they didn't improve customer experience then they simply wouldn't be present at all*, saving even more money!

      It's also worth nothing that people /do/ value the increased accuracy machines bring to music, that's why people prefer queen recordings as opposed to some shitty local cover band.

      *Unless your country has laws effectively forcing bars to include music, maybe to make them a dance hall or something.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @06:02AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @06:02AM (#481979)

        I meant improve customer experience above a human entertainer. And there is a place and time for machines, but a beauty pageant judge isn't one of them.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:29AM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:29AM (#481933) Journal

      I agree with AC on this one. Some of the "most beautiful women" found in the media aren't especially attractive to me. (Kardashian? PUHLEASE!!) Often times, some little imperfection adds to a woman's attractiveness. The eye of the beholder is everything. No algorithm is going to determine who any individual is going to be attracted to. It may produce some pretty impressive average results, but it isn't going to always be right.

      We really don't need to make everything in our lives digital.

      --
      This broadcast is intended for mature audiences.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @06:07AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @06:07AM (#481981)

        I agree, pageant winners are on the bland side. That's perhaps a result of judging by committee, giving a highest average score but nothing that knocks one's socks off.

  • (Score: 2) by art guerrilla on Tuesday March 21 2017, @12:05AM (1 child)

    by art guerrilla (3082) on Tuesday March 21 2017, @12:05AM (#481871)

    recalled a study that : "... studies have shown that averaging a group of faces results in a synthetic face more attractive than any of the originals..." which essentially photoshopped a vast array of features together, effectively 'averaging' them out, and the most 'average' faces were the ones judged most attractive...
    so, look average to look your best...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @12:17AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @12:17AM (#481881)

      Their average face is very different from someone of average attractiveness.

      All they've managed to show is that removing unusual features increases attractiveness, which has obvious benefits in avoiding mating with visibly deformed or diseased people.

  • (Score: 2) by Refugee from beyond on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:04AM

    by Refugee from beyond (2699) on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:04AM (#481923)

    But can it make beauty pageants go away?

    --
    Instantly better soylentnews: replace background on article and comment titles with #973131.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:24AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:24AM (#481931)
    Rub this colored rock on your face. You'll look better.
    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:34AM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:34AM (#481937) Journal

      I'll repeat my old claim here:

      If women were convinced that moon dust (or Mars dust) could make them look younger, we would already have a colony on the moon (or Mars) extracting those beneficial dust particles. Mary Kay and Avon would each have financed their own colonies. Oh - Cover Girl. And, probably a dozen others.

      Scam artists are a dime a dozen, anywhere you go, but none of them has yet tried to sell moon dust, or any other "rare" item from the moon.

      --
      This broadcast is intended for mature audiences.
      • (Score: 1) by Soylentbob on Tuesday March 21 2017, @07:19AM

        by Soylentbob (6519) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 21 2017, @07:19AM (#481996)

        If women were convinced that moon dust (or Mars dust) could make them look younger

        Problem is, everyone knows that those dusts don't work. But we should raise the awareness to the fact that CO2 and especially methane in the atmosphere accelerates the ageing process. (Global warming should be solved by no-time then...) Oh, and mental exercises obviously increase the blood circulation and nutrition of the head, which causes a significant reduction of wrinkles and more vital skin colour. (Ok, that should take care of the educational crisis. Wait, maybe we should have kept that as a last, it might counteract to the effectiveness of this scheme for other schemes...)

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by rts008 on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:33AM

    by rts008 (3001) on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:33AM (#481936)

    "Hey sexy mama, wanna go kill all humans?"

  • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Tuesday March 21 2017, @10:31AM (1 child)

    by Aiwendil (531) on Tuesday March 21 2017, @10:31AM (#482033) Journal

    Seriously - ask an Indian (asian), persian, japanese, finnish, italian, american, sub-saharan and caribbean man about what beauty is.

    Heck - I want my finnish men to be tall cuddly bears, my swedish men to be scrawny treats, my japanese men to give ladies a good run for femininity, and my italian men far away from me (just not my kink, wrong kind of roughness)

    With women I want the east asian to have big breasts, the finnish to be thin, the swedish to be curvy with a tedency towards thin, the norwegian to be slightly plump and big breasted, the persian to be slender. And I want none of them to be tattooed nor look like they've just taken a beating (fat lips), and I want their breasts to have a slight bounce (if big enough), and I want the skin to be pale. (Note the absence of butts).

    Also - I consider the geisha/geiko(+maiko) (and some goth-makeups) aesthetics to be attractive but I dislike noticing makeup in general.

    Oh, and red lips are for me a sign of allergic reaction, and rosy cheeks causes me to want check the person for a heart condition (unless they currently engage in physical activity)

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday March 21 2017, @01:05PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 21 2017, @01:05PM (#482086)

      And I want none of them to be tattooed

      tattoo is extreme conformity as is piercing. Under the age of 40 only extreme radicals and non-conformists have no ink or piercings or a natural hair color/style. Its hyper conformist mainstream now.

      The problem with tattoo is its got the same quality distribution as female beauty standards, inevitably most 10/10 have like 5/10 tattoos. There's too many hipsters who want tattoos and too few quality artists.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 21 2017, @12:08PM (2 children)

    by Thexalon (636) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 21 2017, @12:08PM (#482061) Homepage

    Any D&D veteran knows that beauty is definitely *not* in the eye of a Beholder.

    What will be interesting, though, is if they manage to quantify beauty more closely than the current "helen" units: 1 helen = the amount of beauty required to send 1000 ships worth of people towards you. Typically, that's a bit too much for practical use, so millihelens and microhelens are in common use. Negative values, of course, repulse with equal force: -1 helen chases 1000 ships worth of people away.

    --
    If you act on pie in the sky, you're likely to get pie in the face.
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by VLM on Tuesday March 21 2017, @01:17PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 21 2017, @01:17PM (#482091)

      millihelens

      That would be an interesting replacement for the Beaufort scale and rating ship hulls if you express weather or survivability as a percentage of 1 in millihelens.

      That squall line isn't much, its barely white capping the waves, glad the storm died down from the forecast 250 millihelens to a mere 10 millihelens sea state danger level.

      Yeah my 29 foot sailboat is built to atlantic crossing specs and its rated to 800 millihelens of weather but the ride is pretty brutal above 500 millihelens and the galley is pretty much out of commission in sea states above 600 millihelens, so on paper its a north atlantic crosser but in practice its more fun in the Caribbean.

      They changed the coast guard regs such that ship and platform lifeboats need to be engineered to survive higher than 990 milihelens of weather but much like a puppeteer hull, the steel hull surviving intact and afloat does not imply the passengers are any better than red goo pooled in the bilge after a couple hours in a 900 millihelen hurricane.

    • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:18PM

      by Aiwendil (531) on Tuesday March 21 2017, @02:18PM (#482138) Journal

      I'd be more interested/worried if we started to use Hel [wikipedia.org] as a unit.

      One Hel is enough to make you build an android replacement that moonlights as the destroyer of civilisation.

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