Research suggests Amazon's facial analysis algorithms have struggled with gender and racial bias. The MIT Media Lab found Rekognition had no trouble at all in correctly pinpointing the gender of lighter-skinned men but it classified women as men almost a fifth of the time and darker-skinned women as men on almost one out of three occasions. IBM and Microsoft software performed better than Amazon's tool -- Microsoft's solution mistakenly thought darker-skinned women were men 1.5 percent of the time.
Over the last two years, Amazon has aggressively marketed its facial recognition technology to police departments and federal agencies as a service to help law enforcement identify suspects more quickly. It has done so as another tech giant, Microsoft, has called on Congress to regulate the technology, arguing that it is too risky for companies to oversee on their own. Now a new study from researchers at the M.I.T. Media Lab has found that Amazon's system, Rekognition, had much more difficulty in telling the gender of female faces and of darker-skinned faces in photos than similar services from IBM and Microsoft. The results raise questions about potential bias that could hamper Amazon's drive to popularize the technology. In the study, published Thursday, Rekognition made no errors in recognizing the gender of lighter-skinned men.
As a dark-skinned African-American woman in an often diversity-challenged entertainment industry, singer and TV personality Kelly Rowland declared over the weekend that women who look like her deserve to see more pop culture role models. Rowland, the former member of Destiny's Child, which is one of the best-selling U.S. all-female pop groups in history, said she and the producers of a new talent reality show are working to make that happen. "One of the things I looked for first was chocolate girls because I feel it's so necessary for my niece... she has to see more chocolate women," Rowland told an audience at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Saturday, during a preview of a new BET show "Chasing Destiny." The show sees Rowland putting together a new girl group, similar to the one she helped pioneer alongside bandmates Beyonce Knowles and Michelle Williams. The 35-year-old entertainer said she was inspired by darker-skinned women in the entertainment industry, such as Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson, and by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama today.
These are just some of the women at the top of their game in the world of entertainment in 2018. But how much of their success is down to the shade of their skin? It's been suggested by some that black women with lighter skin find it easier to get ahead because of colourism. Colourism is prejudice against people who have a darker skin tone - and/or the preferential treatment of those who are of the same race but lighter-skinned. It's something that grime artist Lioness says she's experienced.
Facial-recognition technology is improving by leaps and bounds. Some commercial software can now tell the gender of a person in a photograph. When the person in the photo is a white man, the software is right 99 percent of the time. But the darker the skin, the more errors arise -- up to nearly 35 percent for images of darker-skinned women, according to a new study that breaks fresh ground by measuring how the technology works on people of different races and gender. These disparate results, calculated by Joy Buolamwini, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, show how some of the biases in the real world can seep into artificial intelligence, the computer systems that inform facial recognition.