Google Photos Still Can’t Recognize Gorillas 

greg gollin i3srrrdsjes unsplash scaled.jpg
greg gollin i3srrrdsjes unsplash scaled.jpg

Google Photos Still Can't Recognize Gorillas 

Google Photos has a long-standing history with “Gorillas”. Despite all the developments in the AI industry, it still can’t recognize Gorillas or any other primates.

It might be the after-effect of an unfortunate 8-year-old incident when Google Photos wrongly labeled black people as Gorillas.

The launch of Google Photos in May 2015 was a huge affair. The entire industry and Google users were excitedly anticipating what wonders this app could do. After all, an app that claimed to organize and label your photos automatically seemed revolutionary back in 2015.

But soon after the launch, software developer Jacky Alciné found that Google Photos has labeled photos of him and his friends as “Gorillas”. The news soon went viral on Twitter as Alcine enquired about the sample images used in training the software that led it to make such a terrible assumption.

Naturally, Google was appalled and sincerely apologetic. But in a bid to prevent the mistake from happening again, they prevented Google Photos from labeling any picture as “Gorilla” which includes actual pictures of the animal. 8 years after that incident, Google is still afraid to repeat the mistake, which means Google Photos is still unable to identify the actual animal.

The New York Times Experiment

The incident recently resurfaced when the New York Times conducted an experiment. It uploaded 44 images of people, animals, and objects on Google Photos, and upon searching, the Artificial Intelligence identified all the other animals, such as cats & kangaroos easily.

It’s hard to say whether Google is actually unable to fix it or genuinely fears making the same mistakes.

However, when it came to animals like monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, or orangutans, Google Photos proved to be of no use— neither in labeling them nor in finding them.

While mistakes can be excused in other cases, this particular instance, which could be easily used to label the AI and Google’s training method as racist, might not be worth the risk.

After New York Times brought attention to this incident, Alciné expressed his disappointment and said, “I’m going to forever have no faith in this AI,”

Apple & Microsoft Are On The Same Boat 

The incident with Google seems to have shaken its competitors, Apple and Microsoft as well. During the same experiment by the New York Times, it was found that neither Apple Photos nor Microsoft OneDrive could recognize these animals. Both companies seem so scared of repeating the same mistakes that they have banned their photo app AI from identifying gorillas.

The only time these apps showed results for Gorillas is if there’s an image with the words on it. For example, Gorilla Tape or a t-shirt about saving Gorillas will show up in the results but not the actual animal.

Amazon Photos works on similar lines but with a little twist. Instead of simply not showing results, it mistakenly labels other animals as Gorillas.

On reaching out to these companies, Apple was unavailable for comment, while a Google Spokesperson said that the benefits of recognizing the animal “does not outweigh the risk of harm.”

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