Human, Always: Dove’s Promise to Keep its Ads AI-Free

Human, Always: Dove’s Promise to Keep its Ads AI-Free featured image
Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

AI is a lot of things. The same power behind some of the coolest and most innovative leaps in personalized product is also what gave us the Glasgow Wonka Experience. AI images have already begun flooding marketing around the world, and the oftentimes narrow view of what’s beautiful and what’s marketable has a lot of us concerned. It’s already clear that not all AI-uses are created equal, and Dove is taking a stand against one of the most harmful.

With AI predicted to be behind 95 percent of online content by next year, how are those images impacting us?

Ai woman
AI-generated Image from Dove’s “The Code”

The AI Woman

In their ad campaign, Dove shows how asking AI to produce images of “a gorgeous woman” or “perfect skin” generated idealized, unrealistic images. At the prompt “the most beautiful woman in the world,” we see a collage of resulting images. Porcelain-skinned women with insane proportions, lacking rib cages and structural integrity, with delicate, bony shoulders and hands. Her lips are full, her eyes wide and strikingly blue, no matter the skin color generated. Skin so smooth is must feel like silicone. She is blonde.

So, what do we do?

Lamia Drew, Estée Lauder’s global director of inclusive technology and accessibility, explains that Artificial Intelligence is ultimately a reflection of ourselves and our biases. In creating Estée Lauder’s Voice-Enabled Makeup Assistant (VMA) App, they had to consciously account for things like diversity.

“How an AI is trained is really critical,” Drew explains. “When creating VMA, we used thousands of images all across the Fitzpatrick scale to train the AI so that it could be capable of analyzing any face. That means accounting for diversity, skin tones and face shapes across the board. By the time we had a product to test, we had used another 50,000 images to help fine-tune the algorithm.”

Dove’s ad shows Artificial Intelligence use in an innovative way.

AI Learns What Real Beauty Is

This isn’t Dove’s first time taking a stand when it comes to beauty standards, diversity and the impact that has on women and girls. Their Real Beauty campaign has been featuring women of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes for a solid two decades.

And to an AI program, that’s data.

When they add “Real Beauty ad” as a qualifying term, the AI output is noticeably different. Instead of the mythical blonde woman, we see what looks like real people. Women of different ages, abilities, backgrounds and sizes. Women who have wrinkles.

The ad ends with a promise, that Dove will never use AI to create or distort women’s images.

What’s Next?

It’s important to note here that Dove isn’t turning it’s nose up at all technology powered by Artificial Intelligence. They and their parent company, Unilever, are still utilizing the kind of tech that can produce bespoke formulas and analyze data provided by users. We’re talking skin-care quizzes that analyze photos of your skin, or specialized shampoo based on your lifestyle and location.

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