Swiss Digital Days 2022: ADface - What does your face say about you? Experience in Geneva

Jessica Espinosa • October 2022

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For seven weeks, digitalswitzerland and its partners carried out the Swiss Digital Days 2022 across the country. These days allowed the Swiss population to exchange, discuss, and access more than 300 events on the topic of digitalization. On September 29th, the Swiss Digital Initiative participated in the Swiss Digital Days in Geneva, where we displayed our interactive art experience ADface.

Have you ever wondered if artificial intelligence (AI) has found its way into your life? How much of the content you consume online is influenced by an algorithm? Or maybe wondered what an algorithm can assume from you by just analyzing your facial features? Well, ADface is here to help you understand how AI algorithms can make assumptions about us and influence our decisions in the digital world. This interactive art experience was created by students of the Master in Media Design program at HEAD – Genève in partnership with the Swiss Digital Initiative. With ADface, we want to raise awareness of the ethical implications and governance of AI to advance more inclusive and transparent technologies.

During the Swiss Digital Days in Geneva, the SDI team displayed ADface in one of the digitalswitzerland bubbles for the genevoise community to try it out freely and bring them closer to AI implications in our daily lives. During this, a variety of people showed up. From people who are working with technology and AI to students or curious citizens just passing by. Nevertheless, no matter how familiar or not they were with AI, ADface seemed to surprise and intrigue them all. Some of the participants asked us to go through the experience a second time, changing their hairstyle, taking off their glasses, or just making a different facial expression and were amazed by how different the result could be.

After trying out ADface, we asked participants about their experience. The participants reflect on how AI can reproduce biases based on basic human features, while others mentioned that our lives are more exposed to AI and targeted advertisements than we expect or like to believe. We can identify that trust in digital services is low, particularly when it comes to AI use. Also, we noticed that awareness or knowledge of digital services using AI is low, or people have never thought about its implications. ADface was an eye opener and therefore mentioned that they’ll pay more attention to services using AI algorithms when making decisions online.

Overall, ADface is a fun and easy tool to bring people closer to the topic of AI ethics and raise awareness of the need for regulation, principles or standards that can mitigate AI’s negative effects. As a response to this need, the SDI developed the Digital Trust Label which denotes the trustworthiness of digital services based on 35 criteria along four main categories: security, data protection, reliability and fair user interaction. In this last category, the criteria evaluate the use of accurate and bias-free AI algorithms, being a starting point of AI ethical regulation.

As the Swiss Digital Initiative, we don’t want to discourage the use or further development of AI algorithms. On the contrary, we want to promote and encourage ethical, just and transparent development and use of technologies that are beneficial for organisations, users and society at large.

Don’t forget to try ADface – What does your face say about you?