- How to watch tonight’s Nevada 2020 Democratic presidential debate 3 Years Ago
- The ‘Naked Philanthropist’ and Kent State gun girl are beefing online 3 Years Ago
- Maine implemented a strict privacy law—corporations are now claiming it violates their free speech 3 Years Ago
- Review: This is just the beginning for ‘Dreams’ Today 7:30 AM
- Who is Cletus Kasady, Woody Harrelson’s character in ‘Venom 2’? Today 7:00 AM
- What is biometric data? Today 6:30 AM
- Cooking Mama’s return whips up a fresh batch of memes Tuesday 8:18 PM
- Influencer body-shames model, Photoshops photo of self to ‘prove point’ Tuesday 7:27 PM
- Boosie Badazz goes on transphobic rant about Dwyane Wade’s daughter Tuesday 6:34 PM
- Royal Family’s website accidentally links to porn instead of charity Tuesday 5:39 PM
- Republican senator spreads false conspiracy about coronavirus Tuesday 5:11 PM
- New DNA technology could help exonerate Black man serving life sentence Tuesday 4:24 PM
- ‘SNL’s’ Kenan Thompson to host the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Tuesday 3:58 PM
- Singer Summer Walker dragged for insensitive HIV comments Tuesday 2:39 PM
- This video of a teddy bear getting steam cleaned makes a perfect meme Tuesday 2:27 PM
Richard Lee, a 22-year-old New Zealander of Asian descent, recently had his passport photo rejected when the automated facial recognition software registered his eyes as being closed. Lee posted about the incident on Facebook.
Lee told Reuters that it was no big deal, “I’ve always had very small eyes and facial recognition technology is relatively new and unsophisticated.” An Internal Affairs spokesman also said about 20 percent of passport photos are rejected.
However, as much as people love to claim that technology is inherently unbiased, there are many examples of racial bias in facial recognition software. For a while, Google photos was auto-tagging images of black people as gorillas. HP’s face tracking webcams could detect white people but not black people. And many versions of facial recognition software have determined Asian people’s eyes are closed.
As Rose Eveleth wrote for Motherboard, the bias comes not from the technology, but from the programmers. “Algorithms are trained using a set of faces. If the computer has never seen anybody with thin eyes or darker skin, it doesn’t know to see them. It hasn’t been told how. More specifically: The people designing it haven’t told it how.” However, because engineers say they aren’t intentionally programming racial biases, many refuse to admit there is even a problem.
Lee is right that facial recognition technology is unsophisticated. That’s often because the pool of faces used to train it isn’t as diverse as it needs to be. It will always make mistakes, but as it stands now, those mistakes disproportionately affect non-whites.
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'