Amazon’s gender recognition system identified former First Lady Michelle Obama and tennis superstar Serena Williams as male.
According to MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini, Amazon’s response was that the software is not “facial recognition, it’s gender recognition” — as if that makes it acceptable to identify women as male.
Both Michelle and Serena are genetically and biologically female, but they have been plagued by vicious rumors that they are men.
It doesn’t help that Amazon’s gender recognition software also identifies them as the male gender.
While “gender” and “sex” are often substituted for the other, their meanings are different. According to Dictionary.com, sex is “a label assigned at birth based on the reproductive organs you’re born with.”
“Gender includes a person’s perception, understanding, and experience of themselves and roles in society… their inner sense about who they’re meant to be and how they want to interact with the world.”
However, both Michelle and Serena interact with the world as biological women.
Critics complain that Amazon’s system shows gender and racial bias, and recent studies have confirmed that bias.
Studies led by Buolamwini found huge racial and gender bias in the facial recognition software.
Protests across the United States prompted Amazon to suspend police use of its software in 2020.
After some tweaking, the ban was lifted by Amazon, saying it hoped Congress would pass a law to ensure ethical use of the gender recognition technology. However, no such law has been passed, according to Fox Business.