Facebook ‘10-year challenge' could be used for good, evil thanks to AI

Facebook ‘10-year challenge' could be used for good, evil thanks to AI. [Photo: Courtesy]
People do love a Facebook challenge, from posting random movie stills through to the albums that define your life. But the latest trend could be used for far more sinister purposes argues one writer.

Kate O'Neill tweeted about the trend suggesting that it would be a really great way for Facebook to train an artificial intelligence to understand the human aging process. Her comments went viral, probably with good reason.

Her idea was simple. You take a load of posts tagged with #10yearchallenge or simply hunt for public posts that use the keywords and you ingest those photos into an artificial intelligence.

From there the AI could develop an understanding of the aging process which could be used for either good, or evil.

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The police, for example, could use the resulting algorithm to age photos of people who have been missing for some time. Or they could catch criminals who have evaded arrest for years.

And on the shadier end of the spectrum it could be used by cosmetic companies to target users who are visibly aging more quickly.

For those who missed it, the 10-year challenge involves posting an image of yourself from, surprisingly, 10 years ago and one from today.

Everyone from your school friends to famous people have been taking part.

It’s important to point out, however, that there’s no suggestion that Facebook was behind the 10-year challenge craze. Nor is there any suggestion that it is using the images in this way.

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The problem is that Facebook has lost so much trust over the last few years that people are starting to view it with great suspicion - something it will have to accept, and work to fix.

So is your photo being used to teach the machines about the fragility of human life? Probably not. Could it be? Almost certainly, yes.

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