Microsoft’s New Website Will Hurt Your Feelings By Telling You How Old You Actually Look

We don’t see what could possibly go wrong with this.

Computers just keep getting smarter, as anyone who’s caught Ex Machina at the box office has presumably spent some time the past few weeks thinking about. And now, they can even hurt your feelings: Microsoft’s “How Old Do I Look?” project at analyzes the faces in photos that you upload, and determines how old and what gender you are.


Microsoft introduced this handy service at the Microsoft Build 2015 developer conference.

The site is a “fun” way for the company to showcase its more serious behind-the-scenes work with facial recognition and analyzing data. The company says the app gets smarter and more accurate the more people upload pictures and subject themselves to the horror of age-guessing magic.

As Microsoft writes on its blog explainer:

“This may be hard to believe but it took a couple of developers just a day to put this whole solution together, starting with the pipeline from the web page to the Machine Learning APIs to the real time streaming analytics and real time BI. This turned out to be a great example of the power of Azure services. The key components of this solution are:

  • Extracting the gender and age of the people in these pictures.
  • Obtaining real time insights on the data extracted above.
  • Creating real time dashboards to view the above results.”

As the company notes, “This is a fun story of how we were expecting perhaps 50 users for a test but–in the end–got over 35,000 users and saw the whole thing unfold in real time” (read more here).

The accuracy of the site is still being worked out–a message at the bottom of every uploaded image pre-apologizes for whatever hurt feelings may arise, with a “Sorry if we didn’t quite get the age and gender right–we are still improving this feature.” Which means that you can’t rely on the site to tell you if Beyonce has been lying about her age or not–but it can definitely tell you that you look way, way older than you really are. Frankly, we’re amazed that Microsoft thought of this before a company that makes moisturizer did.


About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.