HP probes 'racist' webcams
Facial tracking stalks whites, ignores blacks
Hewlett Packard is looking into claims that some of its TouchSmart webcams demonstrate an unwillingness to interface with black people, as shown in this YouTube vid:
Tony Welch, described by PCWorld as "lead social media strategist for HP's Personal Systems Group", explained in a blog post over the weekend: "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."
He added: "While we work on this, take a look here for more information on the impact of lighting on facial tracking software, and how to optimize your webcam experience."
The upshot of it is that if those of low-contrast racial origin can't adjust the lighting conditions to suit HP's discriminating tech, then they'll just have to "select Disable zoom or Manual zoom instead". ®
I wasn't aware you could get webcams with automatic zoom, but if they focus in on the user's face, doesn't that defeat the object of a webcam?
So how long?
How long until Microsoft photoshops out the black guy and puts Chewbacca in?
I have to say
"low-contrast racial origin" had me laughing
Or in the words of Ron White
And I had a DUI that was bogus, because they were stopping everyone driving down that sidewalk that night. That's profiling, and that's wrong.
My very Neanderthal editor of 20 years ago used to have a similar problem with contrast recognition. When asked why there were so few pictures of non-whites in the paper, he would claim to anyone that would listen that they were "too dark" for the skin tones to repro properly on cheap newsprint - however flat and light (how we used to do B+W prints for the rag) the prints we did for him were. The real giveaway was the overly sincere tone of regret he'd employ when telling all and sundry of this.
Funny coincidence though; the properties of newsprint and presses changed dramatically just after he left, and the new ed didn't have the same problem.