A team of researchers from the Higher School of Economics University and Open University in Moscow, Russia claim they have demonstrated that an artificial intelligence can make accurate personality judgments based on selfies alone — more accurately than some humans.
The researchers suggest the technology could be used to help match people up in online dating services or help companies sell products that are tailored to individual personalities.
That’s apropos, because two co-authors listed on a paper about the research published today in Scientific Reports — a journal run by Nature — are affiliated with a Russian AI psychological profiling company called BestFitMe, which helps companies hire the right employees.
As detailed in the paper, the team asked 12,000 volunteers to complete a questionnaire that they used to build a database of personality traits. To go along with that data, the volunteers also uploaded a total of 31,000 selfies.
The questionnaire was based around the “Big Five” personality traits, five core traits that psychological researchers often use to describe subjects’ personalities, including openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
After training a neural network on the dataset, the researchers found that it could accurately predict personality traits based on “real-life photographs taken in uncontrolled conditions,” as they write in their paper.
While accurate, the precision of their AI leaves something to be desired. They found that their AI “can can make a correct guess about the relative standing of two randomly chosen individuals on a personality dimension in 58% of cases.”