In late April Microsoft unveiled a site that for no charge or sign-in will let you upload photos of anyone and have the wizard of facial analysis tell you how old said person appears to be. Not how old he is, but how old he appears.
The thing seemed harmless if vacuous. But days later reports from search engines and Microsoft indicated that all over the world, at homes and offices everywhere, nothing productive got done the day www.How-Old.net was unveiled. Seems everyone was uploading photos all day and gasping at the instant analysis of appearance and age. Microsoft also revealed that most photos were of self. Selfies, in fact. And one per person was not enough. Folks uploaded more and more until they got the result they wanted, or fell off their chairs in exhaustion.
I don’t make a secret that I am not a nubile nymph. Age is now easily found on the Internet, though I would caution this is not as authoritative as you think. Mine appears to be two distinct ages— somehow DH’s slipped onto my online ID and so there is more than one of me out there, age wise. I assure you that the (much) older one is my better half, and the real me is fifteen years lesser. But this aside is about real age, not appearance. The new app is about appearance, and in specific photos.
I had to join the rest of the human race, the vainer among us and possibly not busy enough, and try this new app out.
If there are two of me age-wise out there on search engines, there were many more when I started playing. A few of the photos yielded results that got close, but the range was amazing. Using only clear photos taken within the last two years, I am apparently anywhere from thirty-three to seventy-one years of age.
I’m as vain as the rest, so I decided to quit while ahead. That is, after the HowOld.net said I appeared to be thirty-one. Wouldn't you? Except, of course, if you are twenty-nine.
Well, it was fun, in a masochistic sort of way. Mindless, too. But it brought home how far technology has to go to tell us real things about ourselves and others. Even something as technologically possible as face recognition and a quantifiable attribute as age are not there yet.
I’m doubtful they ever will be.