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Google Is Introducing Filters To Photos Which Work Better Across A Multitude Of Different Skin Tones

Google has recently added new Real Tone filters to Google Photos, allowing users to truly shine in their own skin color.

Let’s be incredibly candid from the get-go: “fair” colored people have it relatively easier than everyone else. This is, of course, a generalization with some exceptions here and there, and when I say something like this I’m not dismissing the daily life troubles of lighter-colored individuals. However, there is solid truth to the statement: other than the frank racism that countries such as the USA (and Canada with its indigenous people, yikes), people with fair skin tend to get off of a series of societal judgments that other people have to deal with on a rather common basis. Much of this stems from media and pop culture, where lighter complexions are constantly associated with better beauty standards. Femme fatales? White. Over half of the MCU roster? White. There is literally a Chinese ad that has someone being thrown into a washing machine to make them whiter. It’s only quite recently that mass media began shifting away from either frankly or subtly vilifying individuals for not being a certain skin color.

With that in mind, Google’s latest feature is also a nice introduction that helps normalize different skin tones. Especially since AI developed by such large corporations have displayed racist tendencies in the past. The most egregious example I can personally come up with is Twitter developing an algorithm for cropping picture displays, which literally started cutting out anyone who wasn’t white. I’m not saying that the inclusion of such a (ahem) feature was intentional, but inherent bias exists in every single person across the globe, and some if it is bound to slip into the AI that they code.

When Google revealed the Pixel 6 series, the company also revealed how it had put in the effort of developing a camera that could more thoroughly capture a multitude of different skin tones. It even launched an open source library, the Monk Skin Tone Scale, which helps AI learn how to differentiate between tones with increasing accuracy. Google has also introduced new filters to Photos, namely Playa, Isla, Desert, and Honey, which apparently work well across a multitude of different skin tones. The names kind of sound like a white dude’s interpretation of what foreign cultures would like, so not fully on board with that. However, all of this does seem like a step in the right direction.


Read next: Google Goes Public With Its AI Image Generator ‘Imagen’ That Brilliantly Pairs Text With Photorealism

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