Week5 - Bias in AI and Machine Learning

October 23, 2018

Search your country in Google

Here’s the result of an image search when i look up “Iran” on Google image search:

Iran image search results

Iran image search results

of the 50 images shown i can only see 3 showing a normal landscape without any specific message or extra intent attached to it. The rest are either political, different charts, protest, graphics, etc.

There are also maybe 6 maps and flags that are just informative or not motivated. The rest are either about a news or graphics for an article. So i mean images that just say “Iran”. Nothing else.

The first image is just… weird to be the top image!

in contrast, let’s look up India:

India image search results

India image search results

Here i can count about 17 that just say “India”, quite an improvement.

Also there 22 maps and flags that have no motivation attached to it.

Wanna check Afghanistan??

Afghanistan image search results

Afghanistan image search results


Well, it’s sad. But is it surprising?

What do we expect to see when we search England?

England image search results

England image search results

most results just say “England”

Honestly i’m surprised how little political results are pulled up here.

But i can’t necessarily draw the obvious patterns and think “Well US allies are depicted well when i search in English from the US”.

Here’s Cuba

Cuba image search results

Cuba image search results

it’s all just beauty! What happened here? There’s only one Che graffiti and that’s it! That’s all the somewhat political image you can find here.

Now, this time let’s try to predict what the result should be.

What do you imagine happens when we look up North Korea?

North Korea image search results

North Korea image search results

In many of our heads this clearly represents North Korea. This is all we’ve ever seen of it.

I mean, it’s not like that patch of land doesn’t have culture and landscape that defines it:

Image results for “North Korea Beautiful”

Image results for "North Korea Beautiful"

So, what does this even show?

I mean, it’s understandable for me that image results for Iran searched within the US would being up results like that. That’s the imagery most of the news about Iran are accompanied with. But that’s not the Iran i know and imagine.

But that’s not necessarily the image the world has of my country. And either google is generally reflecting that, or their results are artificially skewed to include mostly negatively biased images.

Which one is it?

Either way, we can always have positive intent. Adding the word beautiful next to any country would bring up amazing results, if you’re interested.

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