Is AI Racist?

Photography via Adobe Stock

AI has the power to make the world of beauty more accessible, but it also poses one of the biggest the greatest threats to the representation of beauty.

AI. Two letters transforming every aspect of our lives, including our relationship with beauty. From skin analysis, shade-matching and virtual makeup try-on tools to experimenting with different hair and eye colours, our experience with beauty is changing.

Some of it is exciting. Artificial intelligence is driving cutting-edge innovations, boosting creativity by blending data-driven insights with fresh ideas and inspiring inventions outside traditional thinking. It also allows for better access to the world of beauty for mobility or visually impaired individuals. From the creation of easier to open packaging, larger fonts and virtual experiences to voice-activated AI tools offering guided makeup and skincare routines, AI-data integration has great potential.

But AI also poses one of the greatest threats to the representation of beauty. Because as beauty tools are getting an AI-overhaul, beauty ideals are narrowing.

Over the years, the emphasis placed on outside appearances has been amplified by the rise of AI. The value placed on looks has intensified pressure to be a certain type of beautiful, one that increasingly excludes Black and Brown women from the beauty narrative. For example, “photo filters commonly show racial biases by automatically lightening the skin tone during the ‘beautification’ process, aligning with Eurocentric (white) beauty norms” says Faiza Khan Khattak, PhD, applied machine learning scientist at the Vector Institute.

In fact, Beauty.AI recently used an artificial jury of “robot judges” to host the first online beauty contest judged by AI. Even in make-believe pageantry, the “judges” exhibited biases like those found in humans, particularly concerning physical traits such as skin tone and facial complexion, Khattak shared.

“The concern is…

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