Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Never Let a Computer Judge You

"You're going to Europe without a chaperone?" a colleague once asked me, when my wife (who was, then, my girlfriend) and I first planned a vacation to England, Wales, and France.

"I don't need a chaperone," I said, "I'm 26."

"Oh," she replied, "I thought you were only 18."

When my wife taught ESL, before we went to Korea, a student of hers invited us over to her home for lunch. When this woman, who was possibly in her 40s, of Eastern European descent, saw me for the first time, she said to Lori, "I didn't realize you had married someone so much younger than you." She guessed my age at 22.

Lori wasn't impressed: she is three years younger than me, and I was 32 at the time.

Throughout my life, people have found it difficult to accurately guess my age. They always think that I'm younger than I actually am. I attribute that error to the fact that I usually act like I'm 12. It's only recently, now that the grey hairs are filling in on the sides, that a few wrinkles have etched in around my eyes, have my looks begun to catch up with the years.

I blame my kids, as they enter teenhood. But I wouldn't change anything for the world. I've earned every grey hair, every line on my face.

Recently, on Twitter, some of my friends have used an app that reads a portrait and uses some algorithm to calculate the subject's age. Some of my friends were surprised at how accurate the program was, as it correctly attached a number to the photo. Others were pleased, as the app would guess a couple of years younger than the person actually was.

Wanting to try it for myself, I submitted the photo that I use for The Brown Knowser (see the upper-right column). It was a couple of years old: perhaps two or three. The program guessed 48, and I was duly impressed.

I then tried a more-recent photo: the first selfie that I had shot with my new camera, and currently use as my Twitter photo. I shot it only a couple of weeks after my 50th birthday.

What resulted did not impress me.

I've never had anyone guess that I'm older. It's the glasses, right?

Stupid computers.

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