‘Seeing’ Face

December 21, 2009

Just as I figured: Computers are intolerant, racially discriminatory and just creepy.
Figuring out  African-Americans was a problem for HP’s newest face-recognition gear:

In the video, Wanda (Caucasian) and Desi (African American) — two employees at what appears to be a computer electronics store — expose a flaw in the webcam software.
As depicted, the software has no problem recognizing Wanda’s face, with the webcam following her face around as she moves up, down, in, out and around.
No such luck for Desi, however, as the camera remains completely static regardless of any movement.
The side-by-side portrayal is quite jarring and paints a strong case in favor of Desi’s conjecture: “I think my blackness is interfering with the computer’s ability to follow me,” and assertion that, “Hewlett-Packard computers are racist.”

HP quickly responded, knowing how these things can get out of PR control.
From HP’s Voodoo Blog:

Everything we do is focused on ensuring that we provide a high-quality experience for all our customers, who are ethnically diverse and live and work around the world. That’s why when issues surface, we take them seriously and work hard to understand the root causes.

The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose.
We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting.

Eyes speak with forked-robotic tongue.

(Illustration found here).

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