Google has unveiled a more diverse skin tone scale to develop its artificial intelligence system.
The new Monk Skin Tone Scale has ten skin tones, named after Harvard University Professor Dr. Ellis Monk.
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Google says it will replace the old skin tone scales, which are in favor of pale skin tones.
The technology company says it will be used to improve products such as search and photos.
What is a skin scale?
Machine learning, a type of AI, is used by many technologies, including cameras that can recognize a face to unlock the phone or when your photos are automatically categorized.
But to get there, researchers need to train the technology so that it can recognize many people.
To do this, they use what is called skin scale. One of the most popular skin scales is the Fitzpatrick scale.
The Fitzpatrick scale was created in 1975. It was originally used to classify different skin types’ response to ultraviolet rays. It divides the skin into six tones.
Technology companies are now using the Fitzpatrick scale to categorize people’s images and determine whether facial recognition systems or smartwatch heart rate sensors work equally well for all skin colors.
But many feel that the Fitzpatrick scale, which has four different sections for “white” skin in six, is not diverse enough.
“If you say I tested my fairness model to see if it works well for dark skin tones, but you’re using a scale that doesn’t represent most people with those skin tones, you don’t know how well it actually works.” Google AI expert Xango Eyeé says
What will the Monk Skin Tone Scale be used for?
The Monk Scale, which was announced in early May, has ten skin tones, which the company says represent a wide range of people.
It is already used to filter Google search results – for example, searches for makeup images will show more varied images. There’s also a “real tone” photo filter that Google says is designed to work best when used in dark skin toned images.
Google says the new scale will eventually be used for all its products.
The Monk Scale can be used elsewhere if other developers want to adopt it.
Google has made the Monk Skin Tone Scale classification system freely available – meaning other companies can use it – in the hope that it will eventually replace the most popular skin tone scales currently in use.
Why is it important?
If the technology is not made up of different data, it will not work effectively for everyone, regardless of skin color.
But the problem is not just technology.
Recently, it has been recognized that many products do not present different skin colors very well.
In the past, many companies had only a very limited option for skin color products, or even only one, and it was usually designed for white skin tones.
Colored pencils, plaster and tights are some of the products that have become more and more popular in recent years.
Many find it frustrating that these changes have taken so long.