Facebook has a new AI project called Fashion++, and its purpose is to be your personal stylist.
Mmmm, okay! On one hand, the announcement conjures up Cher's iconic fashion closet-computer game from Clueless. On the other hand, it's Facebook — and their algorithms are coming for your data and your style.
Plenty has been written about tech algorithms' outsized negative effects on politics, music, and beyond. YouTube's recommended videos algorithm has been cited as one of the forces helping radicalize people into alt-right extremism. Spotify's algorithmic approach to music has caused the epidemic of yawningly boring and safe "chill" muzak-pop playlists and has made it harder for-hard-to-categorize and experimental music to have a platform. So we have good reason to be wary of Facebook's algorithmic intrusion into fashion.
While it's unclear if Fashion++ will take the form of a standalone app or a in-app Facebook tool, it'll be trained on what is "fashionable" in order to help users up their game and plug into trends. According to a press release, the technology won't devise full, head-to-toe looks from scratch. Rather, it will process "full-body clothing outfits" — reading shape, texture, fit, color, patterns and materials — and then suggest "minimal outfit edits" like tucking in a shirt, suggesting pants of a different fit or removing what it deems an extraneous accessory. AI in the spirit of Coco Chanel, if you will. No really, their research cites Coco Chanel as an inspiration.
Facebook isn't the first tech giant to sniff around the combination of AI and fashion. Amazon has been looking at AI that can accurately capture what it means to be "stylish" or "trendy." For example, one Amazon team developed an AI that was able to analyze a few tags on an image and tell you whether the look was "stylish." Another Amazon project created an AI that could learn about a specific fashion style and generate brand new clothing in a similar style.
While Fashion++ has not been implemented on Facebook, we'd suggest preparing for the complete algorithmization of yet another industry. Brace yourselves!