Artificial intelligence can create images that look eerily real, and some people are even successfully using its powers to generate professional headshots of themselves. But women of color are saying that when they try to create headshots with AI, the images they receive are overtly sexual.
In a tweet posted on Saturday, artist Lana Denina shared the AI-generated headshots that she received after submitting reference photos of herself to Remini, an AI photo enhancer and editor.
Though the reference photos she submitted showed her fully clothed, all of Remini’s headshots of Denina included considerable cleavage. One even shows her in an unbuttoned blazer with nothing underneath it.
Black women have historically been hypersexualized from a young age, and Denina said she felt that Remini AI is continuing this harmful practice.
“The AI oversexualized me due to my features that have been fetishized for centuries,” Denina wrote in her tweet. “AI is biased for POC [people of color]. I’m horrified.”
In replies to her viral tweet, Denina added that she tried creating professional, non-sexual headshots using “all the corporate templates” on Remini and that she tried her images “multiple times.” (The Daily Dot reached out to Denina and Remini.)
Adesa (@megantheeponie), another woman of color who used Remini for headshots, replied to Denina’s tweet saying she got similar results: In an attached photo, the AI-generated woman is wearing an unbuttoned blazer with nothing underneath it.
“How did the model image I chose and the picture I posted generate the cleavage??” Adesa tweeted.
AI’s innate biases concerning race and gender aren’t new. Joy Buolamwini, who heads the Algorithmic Justice League, wrote for Time in 2019 that the way that many AI systems are created leads to glaring blind spots in what they’re able to detect and create.
“These systems are often trained on images of predominantly light-skinned men,” Buolamwini wrote. She says these training practices lead to “the coded gaze” or “the bias in artificial intelligence that can lead to discriminatory or exclusionary practices.”
A study released last year by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Washington, and the Technical University of Munich found that robots who were trained by AI became racist and sexist, therefore adopting the biases within AI.
After posting the headshots Remini generated for her online, Denina shared that she was harassed by “misogynists and racists incels… who were triggered after seeing AI boobs.”
“I had to block at least 30 individuals,” Denina tweeted. “Our world is damned.”