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Mirror mirror on the wall….

Kylie Jenner as “proposed” by a “make-up” application based on artificial intelligence. Image credit: Daniel Sannwald for Beauty GAN

Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?

There was some magic implied in asking the mirror who was the most beautiful lady in the kingdom but we took it, as children, as a perfectly natural question to ask a mirror. As we grew up the magic was lost and the question made little sense outside of a fairytale.

Yet Artificial Intelligence may step in to restore the magic, and do that in an area where we deeply feel is human.

An artificial intelligence based application, Beauty_Gan, developed by two design studios, Selam X in Berlin and ART404 in New York can use tens of thousands of images to learn what beauty is in a given context and then create images that comply with that criteria of beauty.

The real Kylie Jenner with a “make-up” applied by a professional estetist. Credit: KylieJenner, Instagram

They have tested the algorithm on Kylie Jenner, a well know influencer -see her photo on the left hand side- who used to have the record of “likes” on a photo (over 17 million…) till that record was taken by the broken egg (52 million likes and counting…).

Kylie is more than an influencer that in a way steer the imagination on what beauty shall be, she also has a line of cosmetics that leverages on her presence on the web. The beauty industry is a gigantic 400B$ a year business and developing applications that can steer consumers preference in that area is highly interesting.

Hence the Beauty_Gan algorithm. It has been trained on 17 thousands images of what people acknowledge to be beautiful faces, and make up, and can roam the cyberspace to match cosmetic products that might fit a certain person.

Imagine: You have your face analysed by the Beauty_Gan algorithm that will then propose you a number of make ups to beautify your look (see one of its proposal for Kylie in the first image). You choose the one that you fancy best and the software will tell you the specific cosmetics (and how to apply them) to get your real face look like the one created by Beauty_Gan.

What impresses me is that we are now able to have a software that can learn what we perceive as beautiful, something I would be unable to explain in words. Would you be able to tell another human being what you consider as a beautiful face and do you think that person would be able to come up with images fitting your taste based on your description of what beauty is to you?

In a way I start to think that artificial intelligence has gone beyond the passing of the Turing test…  Now, personally I like the real Kylie better than the one created by Beauty_Gan but that’s not the point…

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.

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