Google does performative identity politics, nonpologises, pauses their efforts, and will invariably move on to its next shitty moneymaking move

In a shallow attempt to do representation for representation’s sake, Google has managed to draw the ire of the right-wing internet by generating historically inaccurate and overly inclusive portraits of historical figures.

Allegedly, images like these:

Portraits of the Founding Father of America (x4), a Viking (x2), and a pope (x2), none of them White
Created (allegedly with Google’s Gemini) by Twitter user @EndWokeness

Google was quick to nonpologise:

We’re working to improve these kinds of depictions immediately. Gemini’s AI image generation does generate a wide range of people. And that’s generally a good thing because people around the world use it. But it’s missing the mark here.

And then stopped generating images of people altogether (its go-to solution for any problem):

We’re already working to address recent issues with Gemini’s image generation feature. While we do this, we’re going to pause the image generation of people and will re-release an improved version soon.

Google’s form of performative identity politics indeed completely misses the mark. It reeks of what Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò calls elite capture: the stripping of a radical concept (like identity politics) “of its political substance and liberatory potential […] by political, social and economic elites in the service of their own interests.”

The Verge rightly points out that if Google creates people who look like Black and Native American women when it is asked to generate ‘a US senator from the 1800s’, it is “essentially erasing the history of race and gender discrimination” as the first female US senator was a White woman in 1922.

All of this should come as no surprise. Generative AI is a reflection of the dominant forces in our society and is owned by Big Tech. When we are using AI we should therefore always ask ourselves: “What world are we replicating here?”

See Why Google’s new AI Gemini accused of refusing to acknowledge the existence of white people at Daily Dot, and Google apologizes for ‘missing the mark’ after Gemini generated racially diverse Nazis at The Verge.

Header image from the original Daily Dot article.

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