July 3, 2015 9:53 pm

Google Apologizes For Identified Black People Photos as “Gorilla”


Google apologizes after it’s new Photos application identified black people as “gorillas.”

When Jacky Alciné, the programmer from Brooklyn checked his Google Photos app earlier this week, he noticed it labeled photos of himself and a friend, both black, as “gorillas.”

On Sunday, he posted his screenshots to Twitter to call out the app’s faulty photo recognition software which the app had labeled the photo of Alcine and a friend, both African American, as “gorillas.”.



Image recognition software is still a nascent technology but its use is spreading quickly. Google launched its Photos app at Google I/O in May, enable its machine-learning smarts to recognize people, places and events on its own.

Its product automatically tags uploaded pictures using its own artificial intelligence software.

Yontan Zunger, an engineer and the company’s chief architect of Google+, responded swiftly to Alciné on Twitter:




This is not the first time Google Photos has mislabelled one species as another. The news site iTech Post noted that the app was tagging pictures of dogs as horses in May.

Google apologizes and attempted to fix the algorithm, but ultimately removed the gorilla label altogether. Zunger noted that the company is working on longer-term fixes that revolve around which labels could be problematic and better recognition of dark-skinned faces.

“We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened,” Google spokeswoman Katie Watson said in a statement to 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.”