Online dating dilemmas of desire

In general terms, the presumed coherence of ‘gays’ and ‘straights’ is made possible because it is supported by modern social imaginaries.

Our willingness to accept that there are such things as coherent sexes, genders, and sexual orientations stems not only from our imaginaries about sex, gender and sexuality but also from our imaginary about the possibility and existence of coherent identities.

Answer 3: Imaginaries When dubious scientific techniques and the knowledge claims they produce are supported by social and cultural prejudices, they tend to gain credibility and lodge themselves more deeply into wider fields of understanding – from science to medicine to law to social policy.

The Stanford study illustrates this long-standing trend.

A Stanford University study by Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinski that recently went viral repackages long discredited beliefs that a person’s face is scientifically readable for specific personality traits (also see this).

The study claims artificial intelligence (AI) facial recognition technology can determine a person’s sexual orientation, with 16-30% greater accuracy than the human eye.

The study also mistakenly equates sexual orientation with sexual activity, even though people who have same-sex sex do not necessarily identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer.

And the study treats ‘transient’ facial features as if they are natural or ‘native’ to ‘gay culture’ and ‘straight culture’, rather than understanding them as performative acts that are highly dependent upon context.

Researchers compared their AI-generated sexual orientations against sexual orientations researchers found from dating profiles, which researchers established ‘based on the gender of the partners that [website users] were looking for’.And that’s easy to do because the imaginaries themselves already map the world in terms of who or what is valuable or not.Many scientific imaginaries contain values like these: Junk scientific methods – like those used by the Stanford study – have a long history of operationalizing lived incoherence out of scientific investigations at the outset, thereby skewing results toward finding ‘coherent subjects’.Answer 2: Knowledge Knowledge claims like Wang and Kosinski’s are often made about what and who it is most difficult to know for sure.A desire to know for sure can lead investigators to attribute scientific certainty to scientifically uncertain categories, conclusions, and investigative techniques. Not only are their claims about the problematic category sexual orientation and its attribution to people with presumably different kinds of faces scientifically dubious.

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It does this by repackaging the discredited pseudo-science of physiognomy into the increasingly credible (pseudo-)science of AI deep facial recognition and then linking AI-generated sexual orientation with biologically determinate understandings of sexual orientation.

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