Beauty AI 2.0 beauty contest racial bias

Occurred: September 2016

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The winners of an AI-judged beauty contest were mostly white, prompting widespread criticism that the results were racially biased.

Beauty.AI 2.0 was an AI-judged beauty contest organised by Hong Kong-based company Youth Laboratories in which five neural network-based algorithms assessed the beauty of 60,000 public entries. Of the 44 'winners', nearly all the winners were white, with a few Asian and one dark skinned. 

Youth Laboratories defended the results by arguing that inadequate data may have skewed the results, and roughly 75% of entrants were white Europeans, whereas only 7% and 1% were from India and Africa. The five model 'robot' jury selected to judge the contest were told they would 'go down in history as one of the first data scientists who taught a machine to estimate human attractiveness'.

The following year's contest was cancelled. 

Operator: Youth Laboratories
Developer: Youth Laboratories

Country: Russia; Hong Kong

Sector: Beauty/cosmetics

Purpose: Assess facial beauty

Technology: Deep learning; Neural network; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity

Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: July 2023
Last updated: January 2024