OPEN THREAD: Age Is Only a Number

And the number of minutes I've spent using the How Old Robot is a much higher one than my age.
Publish date:
May 1, 2015
open thread, apps

If you ever read my stuff over on xoJane, you might have seen my article "I'm Finally Revealing The (Unglamorous) Secrets Behind How I Look Years Younger Than I Am." Just in case you're in a tl;dr mood, allow me to summarize:

  • I don't smoke.
  • I stay out of the sun.
  • I don't have kids.
  • I'm zaftig.
  • I don't have gray hair yet.
  • My skincare routine is pretty simple.
  • Genetics.

Some commenters agreed that I look way younger than 36, but others were like, "Yeah, um, you totally look 36." Fair enough.

So, when social media was all abuzz with the hashtag #HowOldRobot, about the new Microsoft web app,, that tries to guess your age (and, inexplicably, your gender), I had to ask a robot overlord to decide once and for all if I look younger than I am.

Actually, I heard about first from Rachel, who was none too pleased with the results she was getting. She's quietly tip-toeing up behind 25's unsuspecting back, and she was shocked to find that the app repeatedly put her in her late 20s and early 30s.

So I uploaded a recent photo of myself that I felt I actually looked pretty darn mid-30s in—that sort of still-young-but-definitely-tired look. And here's what I got:

Someone thought I was 26 just a couple nights ago, but 20?! That's pushing it. I posted the photo on Facebook, and my friends said they get much older results—like, assumptions they were in their 60s and 70s—when they're wearing glasses, so I tried a photo with glasses next.

Someone at Microsoft is clearly trying to get into my Underoos.

It's been really interesting—and hilarious—seeing other people's results. I checked out the #HowOldRobot hashtag on Instagram, and it's truly entertaining. This might be my favorite:

Um. The #howoldrobot is drunk.

A post shared by Julia (@jzaz903) on

Congratulations on your Benjamin Button baby, ma'am!

Actually, my favorite is probably one posted by Beth, who tops my favorite-people list at least once a week:

Obviously, even if it was built with the intention of being accurate, this app shouldn't be taken seriously. And it was never meant to be.

"We wanted to create an experience that was intelligent and fun could capture the attention of people globally," Corom Thompson and Santosh Balasubramanian, Engineers in Information Management and Machine Learning at Microsoft, said on the Machine Learning Blog. Mission accomplished.

  • Have you guys tried yet? What did you think of the results?
  • Do you even care how old people think you look?
  • What else is on your beautiful mind right now?