Social Issues

New app makes claims to show us what women really look like without makeup

Ashot Gabrelyanov, who lives in New York City, bills himself as the founder of MakeApp, a new app which uses artificial intelligence to show how women really look without makeup.

You take a selfie or upload a picture of someone else, and the free version of the app gives you two options to add makeup or remove makeup. You pick one, and the filter does the rest.

Gabrelyanov, has suggested MakeApp could save lives by identifying women who had been trafficked illegally.

“In most of these cases, makeup is heavily used to disguise the age and/or identity of these people,” he said in an emailed statement. “If human traffickers can hide these victim’s identities, their chances of rescue are low.
When security services show an image and say “Is this your daughter?” heavily applied permanent makeup often makes the identification process quite difficult. We hope our technology may help families and authorities identify victims for rescue.”

Gabrelyanov said his firm was already in communication with organizations to identify victims of human trafficking. Despite Gabrelyanov’s assurances the  app was made for the good of humanity, and functions properly, users and critics are doubting him.

The app is a controversial idea by itself, given that AI tends to be fairly unflattering to anyone with a darker skin tone. some magazines have already begun using the app to “unmask” celebrities and judge their level of natural attractiveness.

Writers for Revelist have noted-

“while the app has caused something of a stir online, it has not been met with unanimous approval, calling it ‘a subtler form of shaming, saying  ‘If a woman steps out with makeup on her face, it’s because that’s the image that she wants to convey that day.’It’s not up to us, or up to some creep with an iPhone, to determine what she “really” looks like underneath her makeup. If a woman is wearing makeup, it’s presumably because she WANTS to, and robbing her of that right is totally unfair.”

Business Insider tested MakeApp on light- and dark-skinned women to see how accurate it is. They found the app is taking its cue from FaceApp, another controversial Russian photo app whose “hotness” filter made dark skin look lighter. MakeApp’s unflattering, malfunctioning AI is the latest in a long line of AI controversies: Snapchat’s offensive Bob Marley filter, FaceApp’s “black” filters, and smartphone cameras that lighten your skin by default.Based on how the app visualizes Serena Williams, it seems accuracy isn’t the end goal of this app.




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