HP Computers are Racist

Van Mensvoort
January 5th 2010

These two co-workers found out the face tracking feature of the utterly advanced HP webcam will not recognize or track black faces.

Hewlett Packard says it's because the program doesn't respond to "insufficient foreground lighting." Too bad for those born without "insufficient foreground lighting"? Amazing, what technorethoric euphemisms people come up with to justify racism these days.

So far for the vain hope that computer systems could overcome human defects and bring justice and equality to mankind. Pity. Thanks Michel.

Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!


Posted 13/12/2010 – 08:32

Wow... I really hope this is meant to be a joke? The guy in the youtube video is pretty funny though

Andrew Farkas
Posted 21/01/2010 – 06:45

So, perhaps I'm late to the party here, but as a photographer, I have to say there is a huge difference between photographing black and white people. The sheer physics of light reflecting off surfaces (in this case, skin), mean that there will be much more contrast in a white face in the sort of dimly lit situation you're likely to use a webcam in (that room looks bright to you, but not to the camera). If you were to take that webcam outside, into the bright sunlight, you might find the software to be racist against white people.
The fact of the matter is that technology has not changed the rules of optics: in order to create enough contrast to allow software to recognize a dark black face (to *distinguish* eyes, a mouth, etc), you need one or more of the following:
-a more sensitive photoreceptor
-a more finely ground (better) lens
-a wider aperture
-brighter lighting conditions
The first two are expensive. The third is limited by the size of the camera itself, which is always smaller, smaller. The fourth is user-controlled, and so is unreliable as far as the engineers are concerned.
All of this is the same reason you, as a human, would have a hard time recognizing an individual in a dimly lit room (we use many other cues, but next time you're at a party or a dark bar, notice that it may take a few seconds to recognize people).
This isn't racist, it's physics (and cheapo capitalism).

Posted 08/01/2010 – 19:24

Also, James, the problem here is a lack of a "simple recognition of differences between various members of the human species," not the opposite. This may be your standard response to questions of racism, but it's a condemnation here, rather than a defense (where it is almost always a bad one.)

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