I’m 36, but an AI test told me my ‘face age’ is 39 with severe wrinkles — I respectfully disagree

·3-min read
Anna face age results
Well, this is blunt.Anna Medaris
  • A new tool from the biotech company Novos uses AI to guess your "facial age."

  • I'm 36, but it told me I looked 39 and have a "wrinkle score" of 82 out of 100.  I respectfully disagree.

  • Tests that predict your lifespan or judge your looks can be fun and motivating, but aren't gospel.

The last time I took a trendy test claiming to reveal my "biological age," I was scarred.

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The test, from longevity researcher David Sinclair's startup Tally Health, told me my body was aging poorly, and that even though I eat well and exercise regularly, I have the "biological age" of a 42-year-old instead of the 36-year-old I am. I promptly pouted and did nothing to change my lifestyle.

So when I learned there's another tool that gauges your "face age," or essentially how old you look, I had one motivation in mind: Redemption. College students have mistaken me for one of them and, really, isn't it what's on the outside that counts?

The test, from anti-aging biotech company Novos, uses AI to "visually measure your facial age." Its website says the tool's algorithm has been trained on 12 million pictures and validated by experts in dermatology.

Unlike Tally Health, which costs over $100 and requires a mail-in cheek swab, this one is free and noninvasive. All I had to do was upload a selfie, input my email, and wait for the compliments to roll in.

Except, they didn't. Novos told me my "facial age" was 39 and my "eye age" was 37. In a real hit to the ego, it found my "wrinkle score" to be an 82 on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is the worst. What on earth will my score be when I turn, gasp, 40? Probably 100, given the lines I'm currently accruing from rolling my eyes.

Anna results NOVOS
I’ve never thought much about my ‘wrinkles,’ but with this wretched assessment, maybe I should?Anna Medaris / NOVOS

To really test the system, I tried the tool again, this time using a photo from a month prior when I frankly looked worse.

In this photo, the lighting is poorer and my face is rounder and ruddier: It was my "before" Dry January image. If Novos found my healthier, better-lit face to be 39, surely it would find this one to be in its 40s. Wrong again.

This time, the test said my "face age" was 37 and my "eye age" was 32. My wrinkle score was down, too, to a 63. Was the lesson to pick up heavy drinking again?

Anna face age take 2
The AI and I will have to agree to disagree on this one.Anna Medaris/NOVOS

I think the lesson is, once again, to take tests like these with a grain of salt.

Novos itself says that the tool is meant for faces over 35, so at just over 35, it may be skewed toward telling me I appear older. Plus, Novos says "lighting conditions, camera quality, camera angle, lack of sleep, dehydration and other variables can impact your scores."

There's also, shall we say, a potential conflict of interest. From its website Novos seems to be primarily a supplement company. Its website sells pills with ingredients like glycine and magnesium for between $30 and $100 a month. If it told me I resembled a spring chicken, I'd have no incentive to buy.

And who's to believe when there's not only great variation between companies' assessments (one death calculator told me I'll live well into my 90s, which will be tough if I'm already nearing my wrinkle capacity, per Novos), but also between images of the same person?

The companies even disagree when it comes to how much control we have over our lifespans: Tally Health says it's 90% behavioral versus genetic, while Novos says it's 75%.

I think I'll stick with believing those college students — and grab another beer.

Read the original article on Insider