Today lots of things are based on companies ability to assess your circumstances and personality, and now they have a new tool to play with.


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Being able to judge a persons personality from just a single photograph or image might sound incredible, as well as incredulous. Recently though I talked about two teams of researchers, one from Israel and the other from China, that claimed they could judge a person’s character from a single image as well as their intent to criminality all with a greater than 80 percent accuracy.


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Now though, after an experiment involving over 12,000 volunteers, and following in those teams footsteps Russian researchers from HSE University and Open University for the Humanities and Economics have demonstrated that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is able to consistently and accurately infer people’s personality from nothing more than a selfie much better than human raters do, and conscientiousness, of all the five traits the system assessed which included conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness and openness, was apparently the most easily recognizable trait. Personality predictions based on female faces also appeared to be more reliable than those for male faces and the researchers believe that the new technology can be used in hiring “to find the best matches in customer service, dating or online tutoring.”

The article, “Assessing the Big Five personality traits using real-life static facial images,” was published last week in Scientific Reports.


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In the past physiognomists from Ancient Greece to Cesare Lombroso have tried to link facial appearance to personality, but the majority of their ideas failed to withstand the scrutiny of modern science. The few established associations of specific facial features with personality traits, such as facial width-to-height ratio, are quite weak. Studies asking human raters to make personality judgments based on photographs have produced inconsistent results, suggesting that our judgments are too unreliable to be of any practical importance.

Nevertheless, there are strong theoretical and evolutionary arguments to suggest that some information about personality characteristics, particularly, those essential for social communication, might be conveyed by the human face. After all, face and behaviour are both shaped by genes and hormones, and social experiences resulting from one’s appearance may affect one’s personality development. However, recent evidence from neuroscience suggests that instead of looking at specific facial features, the human brain processes images of faces in a holistic manner.


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As a next step the researchers have teamed up with a Russian-British business start-up called BestFitMe to train the model further so it can make even more reliable personality judgments.

The study was done in a sample of 12,000 volunteers who completed a self-report questionnaire measuring personality traits based on the “Big Five” model and uploaded over 30,000 selfies. The respondents were then randomly split into a training and a test group. A series of neural networks were used to pre-process the images to ensure consistent quality and characteristics, and exclude faces with emotional expressions, as well as pictures of celebrities and cats. Next, an image classification neural network was trained to decompose each image into 128 invariant features, followed by a multi-layer perceptron that used image invariants to predict personality traits.

And as for use cases, well they’re countless as are the questions about personal privacy – the latter of which will no doubt be swept under the carpet.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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