Apparently, Google programmers were either playing a sick joke or didn’t know that code could manifest latent racism. In any case, Google indicated surprise when called out by Brooklyn-based programmer Jacky Alciné after a photo of he and a friend was automatically tagged as "Gorillas" by the Google Photos app’s facial-recognition sofware.
Google Photos, y’all fucked up. My friend’s not a gorilla. pic.twitter.com/SMkMCsNVX4
— #NYRN bih (@jackyalcine) June 29, 2015
Alciné’s comments on Twitter caught the attention of Google senior engineer Yonatan Zunger, who interacted with Alciné over Twitter to try and fix the bug. On July 1, Google was still working on fixes for the bug, but Zunger acknowledges that the problems lay in difficulty of "machine learning" for the software:
@wiselar @louisgray @jackyalcine I wish it were. Until recently, it was confusing white faces with dogs and seals. Machine learning is hard.
— Yonatan Zunger (@yonatanzunger) June 30, 2015