It's about our community and our spirituality!

White Face Only Recognition Technology

By now, anybody who keeps abreast of tech news has heard by now that Hewlett Packard’s face recognition software doesn’t recognize black faces. But that’s okay. Glitches and bugs are an inevitable fact of life when it comes to technology.  And to its credit, HP has quickly developed a patch kit for their customers with a heavier melanin content in their skin. Simply open the patch kit and remove the facial interface recognition enhancement module (pictured above).  Insert the module over any visage that does not meet the minimum requirements for human recognition, and then engage your HP computer. And just like magic the problem is solved!

Until the patch arrives, HP should modify their marketing strategy. Computer users should note that the face tracking software is not intended for all audiences. Only HP’s most special users can be recognized by their special technology. And it’s just a coincidence of technology that all of the special users that can be recognized are not recognizably black.

Seriously, this is a prime example why it is so important for companies to have a racially diverse work force in a racially diverse work environment. This doesn’t mean compensating for the lack of black professionals by hiring a bunch of black janitors to bring some kind of balance to the mix. Not even all the black janitors in the headquarters building would have cleaned up this mess. You can’t test software with a broom in one hand and a garbage bag in the other.

If HP had committed itself to a more diverse work force, if the company had more black people participating in their software development, management, and test processes, they may have discovered this embarrassing glitch. Maybe HP is just another one of those huge conglomerates that thinks if they tailor everything to the racially generic dominant community that is comprised of about seventy percent of white people. It is typical corporate marketing strategy to target the racial majority and leave the rest to either conform to the majority or go away in search of their own devices.

Leave it to HP to actually invent racist technology.  While I seriously doubt if Hewlett Packard made a conscious decision to develop software that would not recognize black faces, I do find it believable that it is a matter of racial insensitivity that the company never bothered to assure that their software would recognize all faces.

Believe it or not, that would be much more acceptable than the other possibility that the company knew that the software wouldn’t recognize black faces and didn’t care. It would be kind of like Ford’s decision way back when it discovered that its Pinto Pony would erupt in flames in an accident when a certain series of unfortunate conditions were made. But instead of pulling the product and making the safety of its customers a top priority, Ford decided it would be a more profitable choice to put their dangerous product on the market and use their legal department to settle any lawsuits that might arise from their oversight.

This is just an analogy. Nobody is saying that the computer giant’s decision to market a computer that acts racist and overlooks black people has the same dreadfulness as a car company’s decision to market a dangerous product regardless of how it might injure or kill. But surely one must admit that the callousness of such acts is very similar. Knowingly putting out a product that would work for white people but not black people only adds to the long list of disparities that falls along racial lines that seems to perpetually favor the dominant community.

If HP made a car like the Ford Pinto they would imbed their face recognition technology in some kind of webcam in the dashboard in order for the car to recognize that there is life on board.  And judging by HP’s track record, chances are the car would explode only when there was black people in it.  And the vast majority wouldn’t even give a damn.  People will chalk it up to just another one of those unfortunate and coincidental examples of racial disparity.

But like I said before, I’m willing to give HP the benefit of the doubt and assume that they, like a huge chunk of America, are incompetent when it comes to the development of quality products that are to be offered across the racial spectrum.

It’s not a total loss. There might be a bright side for black people (pun intended). If technology ever advances to a point when there are T-800 Terminators coming off an assembly line somewhere and they’re all programmed to kill humans, people in the black community might have a chance if those androids make use of HP’s face recognition technology.

But then again, knowing Hewlett Packard, the day they sell that technology to whatever will pass for the fictional Cyberdyne Systems Corporation, that face recognition technology will be so perfected that it’ll pick out a black face on a moonless night a hundred miles away in the middle of a forest behind a tree. The shitty end of the stick seems to be the black community’s lot in life.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. I am surprised you haven’t gotten the all too familiar comments that if black people want face recognition software inside of a computer that black people need to start a computer company and develop that software.

    Or the comment that states it wasn’t racism that caused HP not to have any black people on staff who could help in development or testing because ONE black people are unqualified for those jobs. And TWO HP has the right to hire whoever they want. And if that happens to be a bunch of white people, that is either their prerogative or just a coincidence.

    But, these people never can answer the question, why is it always the black community who is overlooked or on the losing end of any and all disparities that happens in this country. And the reason is they do see it, but to most of them it is the natural order of things. So, just shut up about.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback theblacksentinel,

    Yes, I get a lot of those comments. If black people want **insert product or service here** then black people should develop their own **insert product or service here**. Maybe these people feel that black people shouldn’t be supporting “white” businesses. The problem is that HP and other American conglomerates offer their wares to everyone and therefore everyone is entitled to their service or the same quality of their products.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. The emerging economy is the small on line businesses that are being created all over the world. These little businesses attract all colours of people and as these businesses grow they will become the new economy. Because the largest number of these new business owners are the ones disadvantaged in the old economy. the poor will become the new wealthy. I read about that somewhere- just never expected that I would see it happen.

    Comment by chris tidman | Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the feedback chris tidman,

    But there is an error in your supposition. The poor will not become the wealthy. At best, a miniscule portion of the poor might be fortunate enough to become part of the wealthy class. And when these fortunate individuals become part of the wealthy class, more often than not they will adapt to all the behaviors of the wealthy class and look down on other people who remain poor. The struggle between the rich and poor, the haves and the have nots, will continue until we develop a social sense that does not identify people by the size of their wallets.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Reply

  5. “If black people want **insert product or service here** then black people should develop their own **insert product or service here**. Maybe these people feel that black people shouldn’t be supporting “white” businesses.”

    We all know good and well that if we were to do just that the accusative howls of black racism from white people will come. When I read your post on the Empowerment Experiment many moons ago and went to YouTube to get more knowledge of it, I perused the comments for a particular video I saw and, low and behold, there were the typical white talking points about black self-reliance being “racism” and “self-segregation.”

    Throw in some nonsense about white people being uneligible to use social welfare and the commonplace supposition of black welfare kings and queens and I was left with the impression that Stormfront had sent trolls to derail the discussions in the video’s comment section. Why is that with us it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t?

    Comment by Dark Frosty | Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the feedback Dark Frosty,

    But the bottom line is that the black community is just damned!


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Reply

  7. You both make a good point. They don’t allow us to participate in something, we then do it ourselves such as Miss Black America, or the Negro College fund, and you hear the same old crap. If white people had a White Miss America or a White college fund…

    But the problem with their argument is that these things do or did exist. You can search up six or seven hundred thousand scholarships that go to white ethnic groups on google any day. And they want to cry about the Negro college fund, who gives scholarships to white people too. Ha.

    I agree with BP, the bottom line is that the black community is just damned in most situations. Everyone knows it and hey, that is just the natural order of things as far as most are concerned.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Reply

  8. I won’t lie, I only got two paragraphs into this article and stopped reading, had to leave, and finish it a couple days later… because it pissed me off so badly. WTF WHERE THESE ASSHOLES THINKING!!! I just don’t know what to say, how small minded and insensitive and…I just don’t know what to say. It sounds like a horrible horrible joke. I will be contacting HP EVERY DAY until they are as annoyed as I am. I have also posted this info on my facebook and asked everyone else to contact these people as well. I think we should boycott or at least post this in every possible public place to embarrass them. I don’t know if anything I do will make a difference, but I am just so pissed.


    Comment by SoToAll | Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Reply

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