HP investigates "racist" facial-tracking algorithm

Hewlett Packard has begun an investigation into a facial-tracking algorithm that was allegedly unable to follow the movements of a customer known as “Black Desi.”

“I think my blackness is interfering with the computer’s ability to follow me,” Desi said in a YouTube video. “Hewlett-Packard computers are racist. I said it. And the worst part is, I bought one for Christmas.”

HP responded to the claim in an official blog post that thanked Desi for bringing the subject to its attention.

“We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose,” wrote HP spokesperson Tony “Frosty” Welch.

?”We believe that the camera might have difficulty ‘seeing’ contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting. While we work on this, take a look here for more information on the impact of lighting on facial tracking software, and how to optimize your webcam experience.”

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