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article imageGoogle Photos mistakes African Americans for 'gorillas'

By James Walker     Jun 30, 2015 in Odd News
Google has had to issue an apology after the automated image recognition system in its new Photos app misidentified African Americans in photos, erroneously creating an album called "Gorillas" in a user's image collection.
Yahoo Tech reports that 21-year-old Jacky Alcine became aware of the mistake when browsing through his Google Photos albums on his phone. He found an automatically generated folder called "Gorillas."
Alcine had never taken any photos of gorillas. The folder actually contained images of him and his friend in 2013. Alcine tweeted Google who quickly acknowledged what had happened. An engineer wrote: "Sheesh. High on my list of bugs you *never* want to see happen. ::shudder::"
A Google representative told Yahoo Tech that the company is taking "immediate action" to ensure that such incidents do not appear again. The spokesperson said: "We're appalled and genuinely sorry that this has happened," adding "we're looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future."
Google Photos has generally been praised by reviewers who have used it in its beta form in the Android M Developers Preview. Most have found it effective at automatically organising photos using its advanced algorithm. It is capable of identifying objects and places such as sunsets or London and then automatically creates albums that contain those images.
Unfortunately, in this case Google got it all very wrong. Although there was clearly no intention of this happening, the categorisation could come across as very racist.
Google's chief architect of social engineering, Yonatan Zunger, later requested access to Alcine's account to analyse what went wrong. A few hours later, Alcine was told that the company believes it has fixed the issue but he says that it still tags "gorilla" or "chimp" when hands are obscuring his friend's face.
The error highlights the unexpected scenarios that automated algorithms may sometimes end up in. Google says that Photos has been tested with images of people "of all races and colours" but clearly something about the images in this instance confused the computers and led to the creation of the alarming album name.
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