All posts by Martin Antony Walker

Martin Antony Walker's (Ph.D. – 1969, supervisor Sir Roger Penrose) career has spanned research in mathematical physics, and high-performance computing product research, development, and marketing with several leading high-tech firms in Canada, the USA, and Europe. He has evaluated EC research, advised UNESCO programs, and operated a scientific computing consultancy prior to retirement. His current interest is in applications of AI to science.

AI-powered Facial Analysis is Pseudoscience: A Reflection on Physiognomy

I have recently joined the many people who have wondered what can be read from the face of another person, otherwise known as physiognomy. Aristotle considered it possible to infer character from features, at least for passions and desires. Opinions have oscillated over time, physiognomy enjoying certain respectability in the 18th century, before descending to the realm of pseudoscience in the 19th.

The advent of artificial neural networks in recent decades has revived the question of whether there might be a kernel of truth in the assertion that aspects of a person’s personality and character could be inferred from their appearance (see. e.g., Richard Wiseman, Roger Highfield, Rob Jenkins 2009 article in New Scientist, “How Your Looks Betray Your Personality.”

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