Microsoft has used its Build Conference to unveil a raft of new features across its product range, and How-Old.net was made as a demo for its Azure cloud services system. Upload a photo to the site, wait while it briefly analyzes the individual and see if the estimated age is correct. A brief test revealed that the site is not accurate at all, with only 1 correct answer out of 10. Another answer was almost correct but the others were not even close, during a test undertaken by Sahil Mohan Gupta for India Today.
Fictional characters confound website
Although the accuracy of the site will hopefully improve, it doesn’t have much of a chance with some of the photos that The Mirror uploaded to it. Unkind journalists highlighted the inaccuracies of the system by uploading photos of fictional characters such as Benjamin Button and Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. The elvish queen would surely be very flattered that despite having already celebrated her 6520th birthday, How-old.net believes that she looks just 35.
Different groups from across the internet have uploaded photos of their favorite celebrities, including Gay Star News, who ran a feature detailing how old Microsoft believed 18 different gay icons are. One photo of Grammy award winner Sam Smith had him rated as 37 years old. It must have been a particularly rough day for the singer, who is in fact 22.
Users contributing to Microsoft research
Although the quickly assembled site, which was apparently put together by developers in just one day, is not the best one, similar software can be used in order to recognize a user’s face to unlock their device.
While the idea seems like just a bit of fun right now, participants are in fact contributing to Microsoft research. The machine learning capabilities will improve with further use, and farming thousands of faces from a “fun” website means that users are doing Microsoft’s job for them when they volunteer their faces to be stored on a vast database.
The internet is going crazy for the website, but it is in fact quite strange to have your face farmed for benefit of a technology company.