[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 3 on -empyre-: Internet/Online Representation

Anna Everett everett at filmandmedia.ucsb.edu
Tue Apr 21 05:50:48 AEST 2015

Ben, you posted this as I was responding to Aphid's second to last
post. In some respects, I am I interested along these same lines. You
said: "I wonder what degree these gender detection systems reinforce
or problematize gender norms. Do they help viewers reflect on the
gender binary?" I referenced my concern with the racial detection
system analog. Then, when a news story comes in such as this "School
Censors Girl's Shirt for Yearbook Photo," because it has the word
"feminist" emblazoned across its front," this issue of identity and
ideology are intersected." Check it out

Thanks for your post, Ben. It is good to have other voices
contributing to our discussion week.


On Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 11:09 AM, B. Bogart <ben at ekran.org> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello all,
> I've been lurking around this week, but inspired to jump in now. I
> wanted to highlight this comment from Abram in terms of the relevance to
> a thread in a previous month:
> On 15-04-18 07:58 PM, abram stern (aphid) wrote:
>> in speaking with the artists, I learned that it records gender on a 30
>> point scale, -15 being the most masculine and +15 being the most
>> feminine.  Is this non-binary gender coding (by the API designers [or
>> perhaps by whatever researchers they based the API on], not the artists)
>> an assertion of progressivity or addressing a technical limitation of a
>> system that can only guess its subject based on similarities between two
>> defined poles produced by compositing lots of 'male' and 'female' faces?
> Does this -15 to +15 scale imply a gender continuum, or is it the
> algorithms sense of confidence? i.e. -15 is a 'male' with 100%
> confidence, while 0 could be 'male' with 50% confidence?
> Even if there is this illusion of continuity based on confidence, the
> algorithm may internally only classify in two groups, just with enough
> inaccuracy to appear like a continuum.
> There is also the possibility that this is not actually a gender
> detector, but a female detector where 'maleness' is simply the inverse
> of femaleness. A female is a person detected as male to a low degree of
> confidence. This plays interestingly in the notion of maleness as gender
> neutral, and all faces assumed to be male unless they lack the male
> features.
> I wonder what degree these gender detection systems reinforce or
> problematize gender norms. Do they help viewers reflect on the gender
> binary?
> What biases are hidden in cases where the actual algorithm is veiled
> (due to the artists' and viewers' inability to access and/or understand
> it). Even more interesting is the training set used allow the algorithm
> to detect gender, usually a pool of 'male' faces and a pool of 'female'
> faces. How diverse are these pools of faces? How are these people
> selected? Who determined they are male or female?
> In some cases the algorithms are distributed freely, but these training
> sets tightly controlled.
> Ben Bogart, Ph.D.
> wwww.ekran.org
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

Anna Everett, Ph.D.

Department of Film and Media Studies
2322 Social Sciences and Media Studies (SSMS) Bldg.
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA  93106-4010
Email:  everett at filmandmedia.ucsb.edu
Phone: 805.893.8706
Fax:   805 893.8630

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