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Google says its Black Nazi and American Indian Viking are unacceptable. Photo: Gemini AI

Google in damage control over rollout of biased AI tool Gemini

Google is quickly backpedaling amid criticism of its Gemini artificial intelligence tool, which generates inaccurate historical images.

CEO Sundar Pichai sent a letter to Google staff saying the company had effectively betrayed the trust of its users and its own corporate mission by openly exhibiting favoritism toward ethnic minorities and people of color, “Fortune” reported. “Some of its responses have offended our users and shown bias — to be clear, that’s completely unacceptable and we got it wrong,” he wrote.

Earlier this month, the internet blew up when images of a black George Washington and black Nazis fighting in Hitler’s Aryan Nazi army went viral. Equivalent attempts to create images of strictly white individuals were refused by Gemini. Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk, one of the earliest voices recognizing the potential benefit and harm of AI, argued it only proved conspiracy theorists right that whites are being discriminated against as part of the “Great Replacement.”

But it is not just what AI produces, it is what it doesn’t, according to critics. Users of Gemini posted photos of historical events or asked it to produce pictures of individuals doing normal things. The Gemini chatbot rarely produced any images of white or Latino individuals, although they make up almost 80% of the American population.

Pollster Nate Silver argued that Gemini serves as a cautionary tale of the risks of ceding a lot of power to the whims of a handful of AI engineers, especially in the case of a behemoth such as Google that is worth some $1.7 trillion and has access to a vast library of personal data based on the world’s collective search history.

“It’s increasingly apparent that Gemini is among the most disastrous product rollouts in the history of Silicon Valley and maybe even the recent history of corporate America, at least coming from a company of Google’s prestige,” he wrote.

At the heart of the scandal over Gemini-generated images of black Founding Fathers is its product lead, Jack Krawczyk, whom critics swiftly alleged has a history of espousing politically charged views. “This nut is a big part of why Google’s AI is so racist and sexist,” Musk wrote of Krawczyk, who one day earlier took his X account private.

For a platform provider such as Google that seeks to stay above the fray, Pichai recognized the risks of being tarred with the same brush as many partisan cable media outlets and daily newspapers.

“Our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful is sacrosanct,” Pichai wrote. “We’ve always sought to give users helpful, accurate and unbiased information in our products. That’s why people trust them.”

–Alan Goforth | MV

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