Thursday, October 9, 2008
Can A Computer Tell If You're Beautiful?
An interesting article in the New York Times tries to answer this age-old question with a 21st Century solution.
Scientists in Israel have created a computer program that uses mathematical formulas to measure a person's facial features and change them into a theoretically more “attractive” appearance. They have run many different photographs through this program with surprising results.
Some photos had drastic changes (like the one above) while other photos had few alterations. See these photos here.
How can we explain these results? We can first start to look at how the program was designed. The scientists conducted surveys of 68 men and women from Israel and Germany. These participants looked at photographs and voted on which ones they thought were the most attractive. These answers were used to create the mathematical formulas that became the basis of the computer program. The surveys showed that there was surprising agreement of what is considered beautiful across cultures and ethnic groups. Qualities that were considered beautiful include symmetry, youthfulness, the clarity of skin, and vivid colors of the eyes and hair.
Too much of a good thing…
Is symmetry and the correct size of our facial features what makes a person beautiful? As a plastic surgeon, I would have to say that the answer is No. Beauty is not having the “right” size nose, lips, and eyes, but how all these individual features come together to make the composite portrait. A person is much more than the sum of their parts.
Symmetry alone is not all it’s cracked up to be. In our practice, digital photography plays a huge role in documenting our work and educating our patients. With our digital morphing software, we often show patients what they would look like if their faces were completely symmetric (If the right side of their face looked just like the left side, and vice versa). The result is almost always artificial and NOT attractive.
With our patients, we show them how small changes can rejuvenate their appearance and create a great result.
Want to see what you would look like if you were completely symmetric? With two right or left halves of your face? Send us a photo and find out!