The Miss AI contestants all look the same and it’s disturbing (aside from being gross-phobic and racist)

Exclusive beauty standards, hypersexualization and complexes galore… This Friday 10 May the first Miss AI beauty contest will be held, which will elect “the most beautiful virtual woman”.

Ultra-flat stomach, generous chest, 10km legs and silky blonde hair: this is the physique ” Perfect “ by Deanna Ritter, virtual influencer followed by 481,000 subscribers. Created from scratch, this hypersexualized avatar participates this Friday 10 May in the first Miss AI competition, which aims to elect “the most beautiful virtual woman” generated by artificial intelligence. Like her, her competitors will be subject to different selection criteria, such as beauty, intelligence (with a questionnaire to which each candidate will be responsible for answering), technology (the realism of the rendering), or even popularity on the networks social…

Exacerbating exclusionary, sexist and unattainable aesthetic injunctions

On the web the Miss competition makes you shiver. Yes, because it promotes a very narrow definition of beauty and femininity. The candidates represent, in the vast majority, a ideal of Western beautywith their white skin, their slim figure and their straight hair. “AI engines feed on already existing images, so they will copy the preconceptions and clichés already present about what a miss should be. In this competition you will therefore often see blondes with large breasts, wobbly bodies and disproportionately long legs. analyzes Florence Sèdes, professor of computer science at the University of Toulouse 3 Paul Sabatier-Data science for our colleagues at 20 minutes.

It is a vision of beauty that is not only exclusionary – among other things because it is fatphobic and profoundly racist – but also unattainable, and therefore perhaps a source of complexes. While in the real world the archaic institution of the Misses seemed to slowly open up to progress, with the election last December in France of a Miss with short hair, a first in the history of the pageant, a digital side, clichés that die hard.

In addition to the injunctions of thinness or whiteness that it imposes on women’s bodies, artificial intelligence establishes as ideals of beauty faces that cannot be reproduced humanly, with exact symmetries that are not found in the real world. So much so that we get complexes: perhaps we know that these are only artificial images, the brain can’t really convince itself of it, as stated by the American Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, then a victim of Deepfake Porn. Citing studies on the subject, the elected representative recalled that the human brain has great difficulty distinguishing true from false, even when she knows that what she is analyzing is false.

Behind the women generated by artificial intelligence there are… men

Why do these virtual influencers all look alike and why do they still convey a reductive vision of femininity? “AI has sexist, racist, and ableist biases and will amplify the retrograde Western standards and hypersexualized” abounds for 20 minutes Anna Choury, artificial intelligence expert at the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse and specialist in the social impact of technology.

And these prejudices do not arise out of nowhere… As Mathilde Saliou explained to us in an interview for the release of her book Technofeminism: how digital technology worsens inequalities, “algorithms are trained on content that is freely available online”. They therefore feed on texts, images, works, comments in forums, videos, present in the digital world, which are themselves a magnifying mirror of our prejudices.

In order for this to change, we should therefore review “the input data, creating cultural works that are much less sexist and gender-related” continues Anna Choury for 20 minutes. But right now it’s the snake biting its own tail: “The more blondes the AI ​​creates, the more it will create in the future, because its own data is taken into account for its future creations”according to Maria Mont Verdaguer, professor of ethics and philosophy of artificial intelligence at the Aivancity School, also interviewed by our colleagues.

The humans behind these technologies therefore have an essential role to play in reversing the trend. But today, according to the American Association of University Women, women represent only 22% of the global AI workforce. It is no surprise, then, that these virtual women created by men are locked in retrograde and sexist shackles, conveying a unique vision of beauty tailor-made for the male gaze.

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Source: Madmoizelle

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