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Google Attempts to Address Racial Disparities With New Skin Tone Scale

The world of tech has opened up a wide range of brand new possibilities that people would never have gotten the chance to take advantage of previously, but this doesn’t mean that the racial biases of the world aren’t still at play to a certain extent. Racial biases have been hardwired into a lot of the things that people try to do on a day to day basis, and one really pertinent example of this is the skin tone scale that was developed in the 1970s by a team of dermatologists which his known as the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale.

This is a six tone scale, and it is used in all sorts of things such as facial recognition and the adjustment of lighting in cameras before taking a picture. This system is deeply flawed since four of the six skin tones are for white skin and there is only one category apiece for brown or black skin types. This is particularly dangerous since it might cause disparities in things like smart watches that monitor your heart rate and the like as well.

When questioned about what it was doing to resolve this issue, Google said that it has been working on a new scale that would be a lot better at judging the kinds of skin tones that actually exist out in the world. It’s pretty obvious that brown and black skin tones have a lot more shades to them than one single category would be able to comprehend, so it’s a heartening sign that Google is taking steps to remedy the rather terrible situation that is occurring at present.

Google failed to provide any details about their efforts though, so it might just be an attempt by the company to save face when asked about a very controversial topic although tech companies do tend to keep things close to the chest before a product launch.



H/T: Reuters.

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