The real age of Singapore’s politicians, according to Microsoft’s Face detection API

You’ve probably seen your friends playing around with Microsoft’s new face recognition tool. Apart from simply recognising faces, the app, available at, also attempts to detect the gender and age of that face, seemingly based on some Dark Arts lessons from Professor Snape.

And everybody’s having a bit of fun with it:

We decided to put the system to the test, and run the faces of 12 Singaporean politicians through the machine. Here are the results:

1. Tan Chuan-jin

Is actually: a 46-year-old man

#HowOldRobot says: a 45-year-old man

tcjageVerdict: Looks like we’re off to a pretty good start.

2. Chen Show Mao

Is actually: a 54-year-old man

#HowOldRobot says: a 56-year-old man

csmageVerdict: Looks like the white hair and old-fashioned glasses are totally working against him.

3. Halimah Yacob

Is actually: a 60-year-old woman

#HowOldRobot says: a 63-year-old woman


Verdict: Not terribly far away, just an error margin of 3 years.

4. Pritam Singh

Is actually: a 38-year-old man

#HowOldRobot says: a 45-year-old man

pritamageVerdict: It’s the beard. It’s always the beard.

5. Vivian Balakrishnan

Is actually: a 54-year-old man

#HowOldRobot thinks: a 46-year-old man


Verdict: Yep, Vivian does look much younger.

6. Chan Chun Sing

Is actually: a 45-year-old man

#HowOldRobot says: a 27-year-old man

ccsageVerdict: No way. Those high-waisted pants really should be working against the new NTUC chief, not for him.

7. Lui Tuck Yew

Is actually: a 53-year-old man

#HowOldRobot says: a 40-year-old man


Verdict: Looks like the second lady on the right doesn’t quite have enough of a face to be detected.

8. Chiam See Tong and Lina Chiam

Are actually: a 80-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman

#HowOldRobot says: a 61-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman


Verdict: That’s just a little off, Microsoft. Get your act together.

9. Baey Yam Keng

Is actually: a 44-year-old man

#HowOldRobot says: a 30-year-old man


Verdict: Just finish running still can look 14 years younger. We also want to know how.

10. Lee Li Lian

Is actually: a 37-year-old woman

#HowOldRobot says: a 33-year-old woman


Verdict: Btw, that guy beside her is supposed to be 16-year-old.

11. K. Shanmugam

Is actually: a 56-year-old man

#HowOldRobot says: a 39-year-old man


Verdict: We’ll have some of whatever Minister K is having.

12. Dr Amy Khor

Is actually: a 57-year-old woman

#HowOldRobot says: a 28-year-old woman. Wait, what?

amykhorageVerdict: Er. Really? Sure, Dr Khor looks pretty good in the picture, but the bot’s a mere 29 years off.

AI is a bit of an underestimator

So, Microsoft’s #HowOldRobot seems to favour underestimation. While we’re still not quite sure how this app works, but it’s really fun to play around with. Also, looks like we need some beauty tips from Dr Amy Khor and Minister Chan on how to keep looking youthful.

Who else should we run through the machine? Let us know with your comments below!

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