Google Is Coming to Count the Calories in Your Instagram Food Pics

Your days of sharing food photos on social media while remaining blissfully unaware of how many calories are lurking in those beautiful meals may be numbered.

Your days of sharing and gaping at food photos on social media while remaining blissfully unaware of how many calories are lurking in those beautiful meals may be numbered. Google is working on an artificial intelligence tool that will analyze your food pictures and estimate how many calories are being served up on your plate.

The tool, Im2Calories, which was unveiled at a “deep learning” summit in Boston last month, will cast an eyeball (or whatever the high-tech AI equivalent of an eyeball is) over that grainy Instagram photo (high-res not required) of your burger, breakfast or baked good — along with accompanying sides — and use algorithms to calculate the number of calories you’re about to enthusiastically consume, Popular Science reports.

Terrifying, perhaps, but that may be part of the point. Im2Calories’ creator, Google research scientist Kevin Murphy, says his aim is not to shame people, but rather to inform them so they can make decisions about the foods they eat (and feel compelled to share on social media) with complete caloric information.

“To me it's obvious that people really want this and this is really useful,” Murphy recently told Popular Science, noting that, while initial results may be a bit fickle, the more the tool is used and the more information it takes in, the more accurate its estimates will be.

“OK, fine, maybe we get the calories off by 20 percent. It doesn't matter,” he said. “We're going to average over a week or a month or a year. And now we can start to potentially join information from multiple people and start to do population-level statistics. I have colleagues in epidemiology and public health, and they really want this stuff,” Murphy said.

Enjoy your blissful ignorance while it lasts, people.

Photo courtesy of iStock
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