As the scope and capabilities of technology continues to advance the debate about the morality of new technologies has become increasingly heated.
A recent example of this phenomenon is “MakeApp” an app that claims to be able to show what individuals look like without makeup.
The app utilizes neural networks and machine learning run on a large dataset to approximate what individuals would look like without makeup.
While the app is not entirely accurate in its rendering of individuals sans makeup, it has none the less sparked a firestorm of media attention.
A number of (primarily male) users have lauded the app for “leveling the playing field” and showing what “women really look like.”
Oppositely, many female users have fired back with accusations of misogyny, claiming that the app is offensive and an invasion of privacy.
The creator of the app, Ashot Gabrelyanov, claims that the app is not meant to be misogynistic, but was simply an amusing experiment being taken the wrong way.
The battle between both groups continues to be waged in the review and comment sections of the app store.
To date nearly 900 reviews have been posted and despite the outcry the app maintains a 4 star rating.
Many users have reported that the “without makeup” picture makes them look far different than the, but the primary issues with the app seem to be privacy and respect.
Is it ethically acceptable to view someone in a way they did not intend to be viewed?
Even if the app is not very accurate is it still unfair to, without an individual’s consent, view them without the cosmetics they have chosen to wear?
Primarily male audiences from websites like 4chan argue that the app is in no way an invasion of privacy.
Users say that anger from female users in particular is caused by the “end of their ability to deceive men.”
While it is clear that the app can be used for harmful purposes, such as bullying and shaming some individuals who choose to use cosmetics, the question now turns to whether or not there are grounds to discontinue usage of the app.
Though such discontinuation is unlikely, the discussion MakeApp raises interesting questions concerning the balancing act of privacy, rights, and pervasive technology.