- Three ways to secure your Nest cameras 3 Years Ago
- This Pokémon generator site is creating hilarious monsters 3 Years Ago
- MrBeast impersonator tricks kid into destroying his XBox Today 12:50 PM
- This mom has the perfect nickname for her nonbinary kid Today 12:25 PM
- Netflix tests pop-out player that will allow viewers to multitask Today 11:44 AM
- Man allowed to sue media publishers over readers’ Facebook comments Today 11:42 AM
- Republicans slammed for joke about ‘heavily armed militia’ at Oregon statehouse Today 11:30 AM
- New bill wants tech companies to tell you how much your data is worth Today 10:53 AM
- AOC has the best response to Steve King’s ‘concentration camp’ criticism Today 10:19 AM
- Did Jake Paul and Tana Mongeau just get engaged? Today 9:26 AM
- Leaked documents reveal all the ‘red flags’ about Trump officials Today 9:02 AM
- Elon Musk, who wants to colonize space, thought the moon was Mars Today 8:56 AM
- How to watch ‘Legion’ for free Today 8:46 AM
- Netflix’s ‘Bolívar’ reduces hero’s tale to irredeemable melodrama Today 8:18 AM
- How to watch the U.S. vs. Spain at the World Cup for free Today 7:55 AM
This isn’t the first time technology has shown racial bias.
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.'