A lot of things can go wrong when you work with automated processes and Google recently learned that the hard way as their animal tagging system went overboard and started tagging people.
The recently released Photo app was a convenient addition to the already existing apps with automatic photo syncing as well as automatic tagging. And it was the last part, the automatic tagging, that didn’t work as it was supposed to. The automatic feature started to tag dark-skinned people as gorillas and we imagine the embarrassment within the Google headquarter must have been huge.
Programmer Jacky Alciné discovered this and shared his tagging results on Twitter. It didn’t take long before someone from Google got wind of it, and it wasn’t just anybody. Google’s own Chief Social Architect, Yonathan Zunger, reacted just hours after in the best possible way. Instead of blaming others and finding excuses, he said it as it is. We screwed up and this isn’t okay.
Google has disabled the automatic tagging of Gorillas for now and removed it from the app’s database, a temporary solution until they’ve improved their software.
This just goes to show that facial recognition still has a long way to go before it can be accurately deployed and be used blind. This isn’t the first time something as this has happened and in the past people have been labeled as dogs by photo recognition software.
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