‘Racist’ AI art warns against bad training data

ImageNetRoulette Image copyright ImageNet Roulette

An artificial-intelligence art project has been criticised for using racist and sexist tags to classify its users.

When they share a selfie with ImageNet Roulette, the web app matches it to the ones it most closely resembles from an enormous library of profile photos.

It then reveals the most popular tag, assigned to the matching pictures by human workers using data set WordNet.

These include racial slurs, “first offender”, “rape suspect”, “spree killer”, “newsreader”, and “Batman”.

Those responsible for assigning the tags to the library pictures were recruited via a service offered by Amazon, called Mechanical Turk, which pays workers around the world pennies to perform small, monotonous tasks.

“AI classifications of people are rarely made visible to the people being classified,” ImageNet Roulette’s creators, artist Trevor Paglen and Kate Crawford, co-founder of New York University’s AI Institute, said.

“ImageNet Roulette provides a glimpse into that process – and to show the ways things can go wrong.”

Ms Crawford added they hoped the project “gives us at least a moment to start to look back at these systems, and understand, in a more forensic way, how they see and categorise us”.

Users have been uploading pictures of their pets.

Others have been categorised into professions.

And one person was tagged “heroine”.

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