Google Cloud AI removes gender labels from Cloud Vision API

Google’s Cloud Vision API service will now no longer label photos of people with neither man nor woman. Cloud Vision API is an AI-powered tool that helps developers identify elements in an image. It uses AI and vast machine learning processes to get the details of the photos and show the details as the tag but now onwards the google won’t be tagging on the basis of gender.

Google sent out an email to Cloud Vision API customers saying that the tool will no longer attach gender tags to pictures. Google stated in the email that they had decided to discontinue gender labels because “you can’t deduce someone’s gender by their appearance alone”. Google also mentioned that an individual in a photo will only be tagged as a person hereafter.

Google also noted in the email that they plan to continue evolving their AI to ensure that people are not discriminated against based on gender, race, ethnicity, income and religious belief.

AI bias expert Frederike Kaltheuner, speaking to Business Insider, called this change “very positive” saying that “classifying people as male or female assumes that gender is binary. Anyone who doesn’t fit it will automatically be misclassified and misgendered. So this is about more than just bias a person’s gender cannot be inferred by appearance. Any AI system that tried to do that will inevitably misgender people.”

In recent years, researchers performing system audits found major facial recognition providers tend to work best on white men and worse on women of color. A lack of high performance for all people is a primary reason lawmakers in state legislatures, cities like San Francisco, and the U.S. Senate have proposed bans or moratoriums on the use of facial recognition systems.

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