To say this is not what Google needs is an understatement.
The internet mammoth is in deep doo-doo because a new image-recognition program misfired badly this week by misidentifying two black people as gorillas! Yes, gorillas. You could say it’s a mortifying reminder that even the most intelligent machines still have lot to learn about human sensitivity.
According to NBC Washington, the blunder surfaced in a smartphone screen shot posted online Sunday by a New York man on his Twitter account, @jackyalcine. The images showed the recently released Google Photos app had sorted a picture of two black people into a category labeled as “gorillas.”
The rightfully pissed off account holder used a profanity while expressing his dismay about the app likening his friend to an ape, a comparison widely regarded as a racial slur when applied to a black person.
“We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened,” Google spokeswoman Katie Watson said. “We are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing.
Despite Google’s apology, the gaffe threatens to cast the Internet company in an unflattering light at a time when it and its Silicon Valley peers have already been fending off accusations of discriminatory hiring practices. Those perceptions have been fed by the composition of most technology companies’ workforces, which mostly consist of whites and Asians with a paltry few blacks and Hispanics sprinkled in.