Google announced on Wednesday that the company will begin using 10 hues in skin tone palettes used in gadgets and apps to promote “image equity.”
“Today we are taking a next step in our commitment to image fairness and improving representation in our products,” Google said in a statement from Tulsee Doshi, product lead on Google’s lead AI team. “In collaboration with Harvard professor and sociologist Dr. Ellis Monk, we’re releasing a new skin tone scale that better reflects the spectrum of skin tones we see in our society. dr Monk has studied how skin tone and colorism affect people’s lives for more than 10 years.”
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Google said the new scale was designed to be more “representative” of all skin tones, noting that the new model is more inclusive than the current tech industry standard “particularly” for people with darker skin tones.
“In our research, we found that people often feel racially categorized, but there’s all this heterogeneity with ethnic and racial categories,” said Dr. Monk. “And many methods of categorization, including previous skin tone scales, don’t pay attention to this diversity. There can be a lack of representation here…we need to fine-tune the way we measure things to make people feel represented.”
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Using Photoshop and other digital art tools, Monk curated 10 tones — a manageable number for people helping train and evaluate AI systems. He and Google surveyed around 3,000 people in the United States and found that a significant number said a 10-point scale suited their skin just as well as a 40-color palette.
Doshi called the Monk scale “a good balance of representativeness and manageability.”
Google says the new skin palette will help when people of color search for products in search results.
“Seeing yourself represented in the results can be key to finding information that is really relevant and useful. That’s why we’re also rolling out improvements to show a wider range of skin tones in image results for broad searches of people or those that show people up in results,” the statement said. “In the future, we will integrate the MST scale to better recognize and organize images to include a broader range of outcomes so everyone can find what they are looking for.”
Google says the new Real Tone filters will be “rolling out to Google Photos for Android, iOS and web in the coming weeks.”
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox Business.
Reuters contributed to this report