A Word from the Coauthor about a Recent Peer-Reviewed Study

The paper warns that AI can detect sexual orientation from facial images. From Michal Kosinski, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Stanford GSB.

September 13, 2017

My coauthor and I are deeply concerned with the privacy threats posed by the recent developments in Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition. Governments and companies are already widely using these technologies and are well aware of their potential to identify people and their sensitive traits.

The general public, policy makers and scientists, however, seemed to be unaware of these risks. We felt that we should sound an urgent warning about the risks, show that these risks are very real, and document them with the best scientific evidence that we could produce.

Our work does not provide any value to those who may want to invade privacy. We did not develop any tools that can be used to cause harm. We only demonstrated that those already in use can reveal sexual orientation. We exposed an existing risk, but played no part in creating it.

We hope that scientists, policy makers and LGBTQ advocacy groups will work together toward the urgent, common goal of protecting the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people.

We welcome your informed feedback. Dig deeper with these relevant resources:

Statement from Paul Pfleiderer, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Stanford Graduate School of Business

This is peer-reviewed research with pending publication in an academic journal, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association. Publication of research findings in academic journals allows the interpretation of those findings and the research methodologies used to obtain them to be scrutinized by academics in the field and are appropriately a matter for discussion and debate.

Preamble in Stanford University Faculty Research Handbook, Adopted April 18, 1974

Stanford University’s central functions of teaching, learning, research, and scholarship depend upon an atmosphere in which freedom of inquiry, thought, expression, publication, and peaceable assembly are given the fullest protection. Expression of the widest range of viewpoints should be encouraged, free from institutional orthodoxy and from internal or external coercion…

For media inquiries, visit the Newsroom.

Explore More

June 16, 2022
Written
Dual ceremonies celebrate Classes of 2020 and 2022.
A group of four students in their cap and gowns smiling at the camera on graduation day. Best Grad Photo Inc.

June 09, 2022
Written
Authenticity, equity, and freedom. Representation and belonging. Inclusivity, empathy, and safety.
Collage of colorful portraits of students of the GSB pride club, smiling, laughing, and looking serious. Photos by Elena Zhukova

June 02, 2022
Written
This Stanford Executive Program course used virtual reality to help business leaders embrace an “improviser’s mindset.”
Women who are lit in bright red and blue in a dark room wearing VR glasses. Credit: iStock/tolgart