The End of Average: Do You Know the Truth of Average?


What is average?

AI can create virtual humans that look realistic. It’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between real and virtual actors in movies, for example. As this is a well-known trick, to make the faces of virtual humans good-looking or look like something considered to be good-looking, AI calculates out the average faces of many real people. We seem to judge average faces as good-looking. I think It’s natural because we have a good feeling about something familiar. I have known this mentality of human beings for a long time, but a doubt had been left in my mind as a long-standing mystery. It’s a simple question: can you believe that the good-looking icons such as Cleopatra and Don Juan are average?

There’s no average, as a matter of fact

One book saved me from the edge of the abyss. The title is “The End of Average” written by Todd Rose, a psychologist in Harvard University. He measured more than 4000 U.S. Air Force pilots to calculate their average size to optimize the size of a cockpit. The result was surprising. There was no one who met average in all the 10 points of measurement. What the result of his research showed is simple and clear: there’s no average pilot, no average people.

Cleopatra and Don Juan had an average look

Now I understand why there are not many people like Cleopatra and Don Juan. Average is nothing but our illusion, and there’re very few people who have an average face. This is the reason why Cleopatra and Don Juan are thought to be good-looking. It’s more like seeking for a utopia or crying for the moon. In this sense, my understanding wrote in the first paragraph is wrong because we’re not familiar with average faces.

In connection with today’s theme, “average,” let me introduce one of our dining chairs, KAMUY designed by a Japanese designer, Naoto Fukasawa. The design is so plain, and there’s nothing novel or eccentric. The designer calls it “the most chair-like chair.” In the language of today’s theme, it can be called “the average chair” that is good-looking, a chair of our fantasy.

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Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.