This Pet Beauty Contest is Judged by AI

By Holly Brockwell on at

We've all felt the sting of coming second in a beauty contest (in Monopoly, at least), and the temptation to blame judging panel bias for our failure to take the tiara.

A vet startup in the UK has come up with an interesting solution to this problem, using AI to judge its pet model competition.

Vet-AI has a petcare app called Joii launching this spring, and the company is looking for a cute cat and dog to act as brand ambassadors. The winners in each of the two categories get £250 cash, a filming and photography day at a swanky studio, a bundle of treats and priority membership to Joii.

Vet-AI has apparently spent the last year perfecting the neural network used to judge the first round of the competition, which was trained on a selection of pet photos the team judged as either "gorgeous" or "very gorgeous."

Obviously Team Giz UK needed to see what counts as a gorgeous and very gorgeous fluffer, so we requested some of the images.

Here are two from the Gorgeous set:

And from the Very Gorgeous set:

From this sample, we've surmised that you have the best shot at getting through the first round if your photo is shot outside with bokeh, some wood and a lot of fur.

The AI will pick ten cats and ten dogs it judges as gorgeous to put through to the next round, which will be judged by a human panel after the competition closes on the 15th of March.

Trevor Hardcastle, chief data scientist for Vet-AI, explains:

"The technology we’ll be using for the competition is based on image recognition models I have previously built for the Joii app, to detect skin conditions. The really clever part about AI is that it can be trained to learn from any set of images. We’ve given it tens of thousands of images to learn from and so far, the whole team agrees with its top choices."

The company also fed the neural network some generic 'beautiful' images including landscapes, the Eiffel Tower, artwork and so on, so it had an idea of what beauty is outside of animals.

Paul Hallett, Co-founder of Vet-AI adds:

"We were concerned that we would be biased if we were to judge all the entries and wanted the AI to identify what beauty truly is. Every pet is beautiful so we’re creating a unique way for the technology to extract beauty and decide a shortlist of winning pets for the panel of judges. Having never been done before, every cat and dog involved in the competition is helping us to make history."

If you'd like to enter your pet to be judged by the artificial brain, entries are open 'til the 15th. But remember, they're all good boys, whether they win or not.

Photo by Antonio Lapa on Unsplash