The “Criminality From Face” Illusion


Appeared In: IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society

Publication Date: December 2020

The automatic analysis of face images can generate predictions about a person’s gender, age, race, facial expression, body mass index, and various other indices and conditions. A few recent publications have claimed success in analyzing an image of a person’s face in order to predict the person’s status as criminal/non-criminal. Predicting “criminality from face” may initially seem similar to other facial analytics, but the authors argue that attempts to create a criminality-from-face algorithm are necessarily doomed to fail, that apparently promising experimental results in recent publications are an illusion resulting from inadequate experimental design, and that there is potentially a large social cost to belief in the criminality from face illusion.

"The Criminality From Face Illusion," Kevin Bowyer, Michael King, Walter J. Scheirer, Kushal Vangara, IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society (T-TS), December 2020. DOI: 10.1109/TTS.2020.3032321

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