Photo technology makes a racist faux pas

This is something you might expect from John Deere, not Nikon. In what would appear to be an honest mistake, the face-detection technology in the popular Nikon Coolpix series cameras has been programmed in such a way as to interpret certain races’ eyes as blinking eyes. When the Wangs, a Taiwanese family that recently purchased a Nikon camera, attempted to take a family photo on Mother’s Day, their new Coolpix S630 consistently displayed a prompt reading “Did someone blink?” after each consecutive photo was taken. The message persisted until one of the children took a picture of himself with his eyes opened as wide as possible, at which point the message not longer appeared.

It’s hard not to cry ‘racism’ when technology commits such a grievous oversight of the beautiful variety of human faces. That a Japanese company was behind the blunder is even more curious, but that detail should in no way increase or lessen the gravity of the glitch. After all, that’s all this is: a glitch. Facial recognition technology is in its earliest stages, and you can be sure that Nikon will have corrected this kink in all subsequent manifestations of the programming. The technology is definitely a net positive: for amateur photographers like myself, auto-focus and similar conveniences will make a world of difference when snapping pictures of friends and family. Until the technology is perfected, however, I don’t think it’s overly sensitive to turn the setting off on any Coolpix you may already own: what’s the use in treading on toes with your camera’s faulty features (Ashton Kutcher-endorsed or not)?