In 2015, a black software developer named Jacky Alciné revealed that the image classifier used by Google Photos was labeling black people as "gorillas."
Google apologized profusely and set to work on the bug. Two years later, Google has simply erased gorillas (and, it seems, chimps and monkeys) from the lexicon of labels its image classifier can apply or be searched with, rendering these animals unsearchable and in some sense invisible to the AI that powers Google's image searching capabilities.
The capability to classify images as containing gorillas remains in some Google products, like Cloud Vision API.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that “gorilla” was censored from searches and image tags after the 2015 incident, and that “chimp,” “chimpanzee,” and “monkey” are also blocked today. “Image labeling technology is still early and unfortunately it’s nowhere near perfect,” the spokesperson wrote in an email, highlighting a feature of Google Photos that allows users to report mistakes.
Google’s caution around images of gorillas illustrates a shortcoming of existing machine-learning technology. With enough data and computing power, software can be trained to categorize images or transcribe speech to a high level of accuracy. But it can’t easily go beyond the experience of that training. And even the very best algorithms lack the ability to use common sense, or abstract concepts, to refine their interpretation of the world as humans do.
When It Comes to Gorillas, Google Photos Remains Blind [Tom Simonite/Wired]
Jason from the Comedy on Vinyl podcast writes, "I've spent the last eight years interviewing people from Rachel Bloom to Harry Shearer about their favorite vinyl comedy albums on my podcast, 'Comedy on Vinyl.' A few weeks ago, inspired by the brilliant podcast 'Mystery Show,' I decided to do something new, as I attempted to […]
South Carolina cops love the state's civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the police to seize any property they believe represents the proceeds of a crime and keep it, unless the property's former owner hires a lawyer to prove the innocence of their goods: more than $17m was seized last year, and in a fifth […]
Jamelle Bouie (previously), has proposed an alternate Black Batman, with an accompanying background story that goes beyond race-switching Bruce Wayne and instead looks at the cultural and racial politics of America and finds exactly the right niche where a Black vigilante in a mask would fit.
What do Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google all have in common? Somewhere in their framework, they all use MySQL, that most versatile (and free!) of database management systems. And they’re not alone. If your company or the one you’d like to work for wrangles data (and who doesn’t?), they’re going to need someone with a […]
There’s a reason you’re hearing about the gig economy in every other business story these days. More than ever, people are finding income from more than one source. And if you find the right one, a side hustle can do more than just pad your pockets – it can allow you to finally get paid […]
High-def cameras are available to anyone and for much less than they were just a decade ago. Even the phones in our pockets can be used to shoot and edit short films. It’s never been easier to be a filmmaker, providing you have the technique. Enter the Film & Cinematography Mastery Bundle, an online boot […]