You, 50 Years Later

Wired Magazine has a fascinating little snippet of an article in the November issue that discusses the emotional impact of facial aging software:

“Most people view themselves as complete strangers, which makes them reluctant to put away money for a later date. But Bailenson and his team discovered that if people view a virtual version of themselves digitally aged by several decades, that hesitation disappears instantly. In one study, contributions to hypothetical retirement accounts went up by 30 percent.”

This is me in 50 years.

So basically, if you logged into your retirement account and saw that the profile photo staring back at you wasn’t your current cheery, young, optimistic face, but rather your old, saggy, tired face, you’re significantly more likely to put more money into your retirement savings.

This is big. 30 percent is very significant.

So let’s imagine what else you can do with this facial aging and manipulation software:

  • There could be a goal-oriented fitness website that tracks your progress as you try to get in shape. Before you start doing anything on the site, it shows you a photo of how chubby you’ll look in 6 months if you don’t work out at all and continue your current eating habits and don’t work out. Every time you work out, the future photo looks better and better.
  • There could be an “age her!” feature on that lets you see what a woman (or man, for you ladies) will look like in 10-20 years. Perhaps it could show your aged photo next to theirs so you could decide if you could see yourself growing old with her.
  • Use the software to discourage kids from taking hard-core drugs like crystal meth. Show them photos of what they’ll look like in a year if they get hooked disfiguring drugs like that.
  • Similar to the 401k, what if you could use a variation of the photo system for long-term planning for things like travel, cars, houses, etc. If you’re saving for a trip to Italy, when you log into your savings account, you’d see a photo of “yourself” in a gondola in Italy. Same with the car or the house.
What else? Best idea gets 7 Jamey Points.

15 thoughts on “You, 50 Years Later”

  1. I know you tried to look ‘aged’ in your photo – but in order to look old – try some gray hair spray on your hair. then smile and take eye brow pencil and trace into the creases that were created when you smiled. then step back and look at your self. Of course since makeup is not your thing – and you wonder ‘how your girl will age’ – people tell me to look at the mother of the girl. If the mother has aged gracefully – the girl will age gracefully. The same with the guy – but look at the father.

    But as far as this knowledge changing behavior? I think we all view ourselves as invincible – I will never look like that! In fact when I have seen college friends in later years and am shock at how they have aged – I still deny my own aging.

    • Plus, we look at ourselves every day in the mirror–it’s tough for us to see how much we change because it’s hard for us to recognize all the tiny changes along the way.

  2. How about sex change body image augementation software? For all those people who’ve been contemplating a sex change for years, but aren’t sure whether they’d look better as a man or a woman. Presto! Now you’d know.

    What is a Jamey point worth anyway? (I might have missed this.) Are they redeemable for prizes like Skeeball tickets?

    • Ah, I just saw the comment stream on Jamey points. This is what happens when I comment early in the morning on posts and don’t look back later.

      • Jamey Points are like Skeeball tickets in that it takes a lot of them to get anything. For example, Trev, one of the things you most desire is to travel back into time to make sure that the first person who put lettuce on tacos does not commit that heinous act. I can make that happen, but it will cost 157,026 Jamey Points.

  3. So, you think your hair is just going to turn gray and not completely fall out? And, I thought you couldn’t grow facial hair but you have quite the mountain man beard going on in that picture. 🙂 Lastly, are those your real teeth 50 years into the future?

    There used to be a show on TLC called “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids.” The parents were shown what their kids would look like years from now if they didn’t change their unhealthy lifestyles. They then had so many weeks, with advice from professionals, to make changes. And I think if I remember correctly they showed them at the end of the show what their kids would look like after changing to a healthier lifestyle.

    • I actually do think my hair will turn gray but not fall out. That’s what I’m hoping for! And I floss, so I’ll definitely still have my real teeth. 🙂

      That TV show concept is spot on!

  4. I would answer this question, but I’m too shocked by the appearance of a different picture of you to form a coherent response. What’s the story? Your blog, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles all feature the same “businessman encouraged by the promise of a brighter tomorrow” picture. Since when did you start wearing flannel and looking at the camera? And where are you? It looks like you’re standing in the door of a country club by yourself. (Your arms are clearly down, and you seem like an arm around your companion type of picture taker.) Also, the person taking the picture seems to be about a foot away. In addition, I always thought you had broader shoulders. I would say you’re hunched over, but the camera angle clearly shows you are standing up.

    Answers, Stegmaier.

      • I’ll double check. I’m sure you have, but I guess I don’t recognize you when you’re not wearing a blue shirt and a grin that says “I have a vision for the future of the movement.”

  5. I think they do do that to educate kids about the effects of drugs. There was a show on MTV about these group of kids who are doing drugs and “sent to prison” as an educational intervention as to if they don’t clean up that is exactly what will happen to them in the near future. They showed the kids who were doing different types of drugs what will happen to their faces as they continue their abuse for weeks, months, and years. That stuck a chord to some kids, other somewhat came to after being yelled at by guards and talked to real prisoners. But scare tactics never works.

    The software can be use to see how polluted air, water, and/or land change your environment, your look, and your organs’ health.

  6. I want one that shows you in 20 years if you had kids vs in 20 years if you didn’t have kids, to see what the physical impact of raising kids had on your body. To Brad’s point, this should also take into account the background of the picture. Are you in a humble 3 bedroom apt, or trouring Europe for the third time in the picture?


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