Google has a problem.
Thankfully not with AI machine DeepMind - which surely can’t be too far from bringing mankind to its knees. No, a more pressing quandary for the search giant seems to lie with its image database.
A video, posted on Twitter by Virginia-native Kabir Alli, has just gone viral after highlighting the alarmingly different results Google Images brings up for the terms 'three black teenagers’ and 'three white teenagers'.
YOOOOOO LOOK AT THIS pic.twitter.com/uY1JysFm8w— July 3rd. (@iBeKabir) June 7, 2016
Typing the former into the search box, Alli was largely presented with pictures of incarcerated young black males looking unsurprisingly glum. Then, swapping the word ‘black’ for ‘white’, he searched again, this time given mostly images of ultra-happy white kids wearing non-brand t-shirts in stock photos. The images couldn't be more contrasting.
Needless to say it didn’t take long before this flaw in the (penal) system went viral, raising questions about the role the media - and yes, even stock photo libraries - play in inadvertently reinforcing stereotypes, as well as the dangers of racial profiling. Tragically, even in our shiny age of the internet, it seems some things are just not black and white.
And to think we always thought Jeeves would be the daft old racist.