Google's Image Recognition Software Mislabels 2 Black Americans as Gorillas

Jun 30, 2015 07:40 AM EDT | By DonDon Navidad


A photo of two black friends got labeled as "Gorillas" in the image recognition software built into Google Photos. The image recognition software is far from foolproof and failed in a spectacular way.

A 21-year old programmer, Jacky Alcine, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., recently checked out his Google Photos account then images of him and a friend that he had taken in 2013 were automatically generated in a folder titled Gorillas, a failure by the  image recognition software.

After the 21-year old programmer noticed the problem, he then comes up with messages on Twitter to get the attention of Google regarding the issue.

When the error was alerted to Google, they acknowledged the fault by providing  a solution to the problem within hours and issued an immediate mea culpa.

Yahoo Tech was told by a Google representative: "We're appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened," Google spokesperson added, "We are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and we're looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future."

Yonatan Zunger, Google's chief architect of social, thereafter, tweeted Alcine asking if Google could access his account to find out what was the cause of the problem, and in just a few hours, Google alerted Jacky Alcine that they already fixed the problem.

Alcine believing the an unintentional act was caused by a faulty Google algorithm, he stated, "there's still complications with the hands obscuring the face causing it to still match to the gorilla tag. Chimp gives results as well (but not chimpanzee)." Alcine also added, "This could have been avoided with accurate and more complete classifying of black people, especially darker-toned people of color like myself and my friend."

A representative from Google said that they test their image recognition systems on people of all races and colors.

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