Face Value: Technology Can Predict People's Politics

Your politics may be written all over your face. That's what new research sought to find out, and the results are more than a little creepy. The study, conducted by Stanford University's Michal Kosinski, found that a facial recognition system can predict people's political party with fairly solid accuracy.

The research fed millions of facial images into a machine learning system, and then scanned them for characteristics that seemingly can predict someone's politics. The system was more than 70-percent accurate in predicting political party, while humans were only 55% accurate in guessing politics based on someone's face.

Facial recognition technology is nothing new, already prevalent in airports, at the border, and in other high security areas. But using it to determine someone's politics is entirely new. Kosinski says the basis for the system is not that far-fetched. "Humans are great at predicting and determining intimate traits of other people based on their faces," he told a forum.

Kosinski explained that we can already determine things like gender or mood based on faces, but politics is another step. "This might mean there is no information about your political views on your face, but it also could mean that your brain did not evolve or did not learn to extract this information from a human face."

In fact, there are any number of things that can be learned about someone based on their face. Kosinski's past research in this area found that facial recognition technology can predict if someone is an introvert or extrovert, and even their sexual orientation. "It doesn't really matter whether there's something cultural or environmental that allows the prediction, because at the end of the day what we see is that the prediction is possible," he says.

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