Google suspends Gemini AI image generator after criticism about racial inaccuracies

Alphabet-owned company said tool is 'missing the mark'

Google has doubled down its efforts on AI as it wrestles with the Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Google announced on Thursday it is suspending the image generation of individuals by its generative artificial intelligence platform Gemini following criticism regarding its handling of racial issues.

The Alphabet-owned company admitted that Gemini is offering inaccuracies in some “historical image generation depictions”.

Google said its tool is "missing the mark".

“We are aware that Gemini is offering inaccuracies in some historical image generation depictions, and we are working to fix this immediately,” said Jack Krawczyk, senior director for Gemini Experiences, on X, previously known as Twitter.

The California-based company took the step after users on X highlighted multiple instances in which the AI model showcased inaccurate images concerning the race of the subjects.

For example, users on social media complained that the AI tool generated inaccurate images of historical figures – such as showing the US founding fathers as women and people of colour.

“We are already working to address recent issues with Gemini's image generation feature,” Google wrote on X.

“While we do this, we are going to pause the image generation of people and will re-release an improved version soon.”

It is not the first time Google has attracted a backlash over the irresponsible use of its technology.

In 2015, the company had to issue an apology after its photos app categorised a black couple as "gorillas".

Over the last few months, Google has doubled down on its AI efforts as it wrestles with the Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Last week, OpenAI launched Sora, a new generative AI model to create video from users’ text prompts.

Launched in December, Gemini is the first AI model to beat human experts on MMLU (Massive Multitask Language Understanding), one of the most widely used methods of testing the knowledge and problem-solving abilities of AI.

It was integrated with generative AI tool Bard and can comprehend diverse tasks and generate code based on different inputs – aimed at providing problem-solving capabilities.

Last week, its latest version, Gemini 1.5 Pro, was released to cloud customers and developers.

On Wednesday, the company also released a new open-source AI model, Gemma, created using the same research and technology used to develop Gemini models.

The global generative AI market is booming.

Investors put more than $4.2 billion into generative AI start-ups in 2021 and 2022 in 215 deals after interest surged in 2019, recent data from CB Insights shows.

Generative AI could add as much as $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy and will transform productivity across sectors with continued investment in the technology, McKinsey & Company said in a study last year.

The downside, however, stems from AI's “imperfections at its inception, potentially leading to instances of inaccuracies or hallucinations”, said Chiara Marcati, a partner at McKinsey & Company.

Updated: March 05, 2024, 10:34 AM