Racist Google Photos Blunder Auto-Tags Black Couple 'Gorillas'

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Google Photos auto-tagging algorithm has found itself at the centre of a bizarre racism storm, after one black user found it had auto-tagged a photo of him and his friend as "gorillas."

Google's Yonatan Zunger, the company's Chief Architect of Social, leapt into the Twitter firestorm pretty quickly, asking Twitter user @jackyalcine for permission to access his account to check the photos in question. It's didn't take long, with Zunger telling the original tweeter: "We've got a fix rolling out into prod now; ETA of a few hours for it to be fully live," before the parties went off to bed, happy that some PR crisis had been stemmed before things ended up being burned in streets.

It shows how, despite boasts of super-intelligent dreaming computers grabbing the headlines, current algorithms are still scoring 0/10 on the common sense scale. What's happened here is it's seen some eyes and a colour that matches something, then mashed them together because it's totally dumb. And people think computers will ever be smart enough to drive cars.

Until someone can stop them thinking "Man in black jumper = PROBABLY TARMAC" computers are best left running quietly in the corner managing torrents until ordered otherwise. [BBC]