What Will You Look Like When You Grow Old? Software Can Show You

By Erik Lacitis
The Seattle Times.


Let’s assume you are, oh, 25 years old. Wrinkle-free, bag-free, sag-free.

Would you want to see a pretty realistic image of what you’ll look like at age 70?

A little hesitation?

In a couple of months you’ll be able to do just do that.

Just upload a photo of you, at any age, 2, 10, 25, into a free program created at the University of Washington’s Computer Science & Engineering department.

In about a minute, you’ll see the old you. If you dare.

Or put in a photo of anyone.

Certainly, it worked quite well when we tested it with photos of former President Clinton as a kid, and compared what the program said he’d look like now with a real photo of the older Clinton.

We also asked the program to age a number of others, from Miley Cyrus to Russell Wilson to Macklemore, to show them in their 60s.

It showed us what Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain would have looked like had they lived, to 71 and 47 this year, respectively.

No wonder so many plastic surgeons get rich.

But, it turns out that the main researcher who put together this age-progression software has not run her own photo.

“I didn’t do that, no,” says Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, an assistant professor who helped create the program.

She’s 33. It just wasn’t something that interested her, she says.

Not an unexpected reaction, according to pioneering research by Tony Greenwald, a psychology professor at the University of Washington. He’s part of a team that has done unrelated research about how we react to a photo of an old face, versus a photo of a young face. You can take the test yourself online.

“We react more negatively to elderly faces. It makes it clear that being old is not a pleasant thing. Why should we want to know what unpleasantness faces us?” he says.

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