Google Sorry for Labeling Blacks as 'Gorillas'

Was caused by algorithm error on the Google Photos app
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2015 3:50 AM CDT
Google Sorry About Algorithm's Racist Error
A Google logo at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.    (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

The automated photo-tagging on the Google Photos app introduced in May isn't perfect, Google admits. Sometimes it gives a photo a wrong or irrelevant tag—and, on at least one occasion, an extremely offensive one. The company had some groveling to do after the app labeled a photo of two black people as "gorillas," the Guardian reports. The man in the photo, software developer Jacky Alcine, complained to Google, where exec Yonatan Zunger told him the mistake was "100% not OK" and "high on my list of bugs you 'never' want to see happen," the BBC reports. He thanked him for helping Google fix the problem.

"We're appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened," a Google spokeswoman tells the BBC. "We are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and we're looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future." Algorithms caused similar problems at Flickr a few months ago, where some pictures of people, both black and white, were labeled "apes" or "animals," and a picture of the Dachau concentration camp was labeled "jungle gym," CNET notes. (Apple Watch gets confused by tattoos.)

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