In what can only be described as one hell of an awkward experience, Google Photos could be accidentally racist. Well, as much as a computer algorithm can be. In what appears to be a pretty big oversight by its developers, Google Photos — which recently added a new feature that can identify faces, objects, or even animals from stored photos — seems to have incorrectly tagged a black couple as gorillas. Yikes.
The person who made the discovery was quickly contacted by a Google developer on Twitter who sincerely apologized for the mix up, removing the “gorillas” tag from the service entirely until they can sort things out. As far as avoiding this mess in the future, Google developer Yonatan Zunger had this to say:
“We’re also working on longer-term fixes around both linguistics (words to be careful about in photos of people [lang-dependent] and image recognition itself. (e.g., better recognition of dark-skinned faces). Lots of work being done, and lots still to be done. But we’re very much on it.”
This isn’t the first time computers have been accused of semi “racist” mistakes. Not too long ago HP came under fire after their computer webcams couldn’t identify black people, and there was even a camera that asked if Asians were blinking.
It’s clear Google’s recognition software still needs some fine tuning. It’s only in the situation above that things get weird. Nobody really gets offended when Google Photos incorrectly tags your cat as a dog. Well, not unless you’re a cat.
[Twitter | via Ars Technica]