What is gaydar

People assume first that all individuals are straight and a minority of people have a different orientation.


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Second, this assumption is adjusted by the perception of individuals' masculinity and femininity, such that men deemed more feminine are perceived as gay, while women deemed more masculine are perceived as lesbian. These beliefs and exceptions are part of a larger belief system that is limited, in that it not only assumes a binary model of sexuality, but also may harm those whom gaydar depicts as gender non-conformers because of the assumption that people are heterosexual by default. In an episode of the cartoon Futurama Episode 4, Season 1 , Leela is looking for a man to date when she notices an interesting guy at the bar.

Straight talk about gaydar: How do individuals guess others’ sexual orientation?

I have got what they call gaydar showing a radar. When this episode of Futurama was first aired in , many viewers would be familiar with what Bender was talking about. Since then, scientists have also shown more interest in studying such gaydar -esque judgments.


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  5. It was around that time that he met David Stillwell , another graduate student, who had built a personality quiz and shared it with friends on Facebook. When users completed the myPersonality tests, some of which also measured IQ and wellbeing, they were given an option to donate their results to academic research. Kosinski came on board, using his digital skills to clean, anonymise and sort the data, and then make it available to other academics.

    For four years, anyone — not just authorised researchers — could have accessed the data. In the wake of the New Scientist story, Stillwell closed down the myPersonality project. Kosinski sent me a link to the announcement, complaining: During the time the myPersonalitydata was accessible, about researchers used it to publish more than academic papers. Some of the results were intuitive: Other findings were more perplexing: If an algorithm was fed with sufficient data about Facebook Likes, Kosinski and his colleagues found , it could make more accurate personality-based predictions than assessments made by real-life friends.

    In , SCL tried to enlist Stillwell and Kosinski, offering to buy the myPersonality data and their predictive models. Using his own Facebook personality quiz, and paying users with SCL money to take the tests, Kogan collected data on , Americans. Exploiting a loophole that allowed developers to harvest data belonging to the friends of Facebook app users without their knowledge or consent , Kogan was able to hoover up additional data on as many as 87 million people.

    I only showed that it exists. Cambridge Analytica always denied using Facebook-based psychographic targeting during the Trump campaign, but the scandal over its data harvesting forced the company to close.

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    The first time I enter his office, I ask him about a painting beside his computer, depicting a protester armed with a Facebook logo in a holster instead of a gun. Facebook, Kosinski says, was well aware of his research.

    Teaching a Machine to ‘See’ Sexuality

    In , the same employees filed a patent, showing how personality characteristics could be gleaned from Facebook messages and status updates. Kosinski seems unperturbed by the furore over Cambridge Analytica, which he feels has unfairly maligned psychometric micro-targeting in politics. Where Lombroso used calipers and craniographs, Kosinski has been using neural networks to find patterns in photos scraped from the internet.

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    The Science of ‘Gaydar’

    There is growing evidence, he insists, that links between faces and psychology exist, even if they are invisible to the human eye; now, with advances in machine learning, such links can be perceived. In a paper published last year , Kosinski and a Stanford computer scientist, Yilun Wang, reported that a machine-learning system was able to distinguish between photos of gay and straight people with a high degree of accuracy.

    Kosinski received a deluge of emails, many from people who told him they were confused about their sexuality and hoped he would run their photo through his algorithm. He declined. There was also anger that Kosinski had conducted research on a technology that could be used to persecute gay people in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is punishable by death.

    Kosinski says his critics missed the point. But then a colleague asked me if I would be able to look myself in the mirror if, one day, a company or a government deployed a similar technique to hurt people.

    Gaydar - Wikipedia

    One vocal critic of that defence is the Princeton professor Alexander Todorov , who has conducted some of the most widely cited research into faces and psychology. Self-posted photos on dating websites, Todorov points out, project a number of non-facial clues. Kosinski acknowledges that his machine learning system detects unrelated signals, but is adamant the software also distinguishes between facial structures.

    His findings are consistent with the prenatal hormone theory of sexual orientation, he says, which argues that the levels of androgens foetuses are exposed to in the womb help determine whether people are straight or gay.

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    The opposite should be true for lesbians. While he does not deny the influence of social and environmental factors on our personalities, he plays them down. Computers can malfunction. Kosinski has a different take. There are thousands or millions of others that we are unaware of, that computers could very easily detect. Would he ever undertake similar research? He adds: But when I press Kosinski for examples of how psychology-detecting AI is being used by governments, he repeatedly falls back on an obscure Israeli startup, Faception. The company provides software that scans passports, visas and social-media profiles, before spitting out scores that categorise people according to several personality types.

    To my surprise, he then tells me about a research collaboration he conducted two years ago. But when I put this connection to Kosinski, he plays it down: Kosinski denies having collaborated on research, but admits Faception gave him access to its facial-recognition software.