This has appeared around the ‘net in the last couple days:
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HP’s response partially explains what’s going on: “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.”
So is HP racist?
No. They didn’t purposefully exclude black people from using their tech and they seem to be making an honest, good-faith effort to fix things now that they know about the problem. But they should have known about the problem, and they should have fixed it before releasing the tech.
They were shortsighted, and they messed up.
They wrote their facial-recognition software; they coded it into the camera; and they tested it. But they probably only tested it on light-skinned people. They got it working with their testers and released it. It probably didn’t even occur to them that all their testing left something out—as it clearly did. They were colorblind, and as a result they failed to provide for all of their customers.