Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are HP Computers Racist?

Any thoughts on why this is?

1 comment:

mochi mochi said...

NO!!! this is not racism. The reason is photographic contrast. The imaging of the camera in the computer and the lighting of the subjects is such that the computer does not recognize sufficient detail to see the few individual facial characteristics which need to be tracked in order for the systems to say there is a "face" out there. The "white" woman has more facial contrast in that particular lighting than the "black" man. Look at her eyebrows, they are very distinct. Look at his... not so distinct relative to his skin tones.

Professional photographers have known for years that they need to light and meter photographs differently if the subject is white or black. There are fundamental limitations to contrast ratio for film or digital media. Detail in dark skin is harder to capture because it is set lower in the contrast range of the sensor or film - as such exposure needs to be increased - ie the photo needs to be lighter to get proper detail in darker skin. This is science and practical photography not racism.

I appreciate the experiment that was conducted in this video - but if the lighting had been improved the computer might have worked better. As it is the lighting is poor. The contrast is low. And any detail needed to identify face to the system is just not there.

Try this experiment with your point and shoot auto-focus camera. Try to see how well it focuses in dim light or with subjects that have low contrast. The answer will be "not well" that's because there needs to be contrast for them to work.

I hope this helps explain the mystery and puts the "racist computer" theory to bed.