Google Photos Has Categorised An African-Americans Couple Picture As “Gorillas”



The latest photo and video management service from Google has inappropriately labeled a picture of African-Americans couple as “gorillas”.

Google has became one of the most powerful companies on Earth. It has developed some of the best algorithms in the world for organising information. However, a recent incident shows the failure of technology when it doesn’t work as expected.

Jacky Alcine, a Web developer who is black, tweeted about Google Photos app that labeled a picture of him and a friend as “gorillas”. The label showed up in a feature that automatically categorizes photos, like cars or beaches, so they are more easily searchable.


This incident points to the problem of tech companies face as computers get smarter and are expected to take on more more tasks a human normally would do. Those areas of computer science – such as artificial intelligence or machine learning – are some of the biggest engineering focuses in Silicon Valley. However, with that focus comes another task that computers have not traditionally tackled: emotional sensitivity.

After Google noticed the incident with Alcine’s photo, the company apologized with a promise to fix it immediately.

“Lots of work being done, and lots still to be done. We’re very much on it.” said Yonatan Zunger, chief architect of social at Google in one of his tweet.

Google also released an official apology. “We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened,” said a Google spokeswoman. “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.”