HP computer’s webcam ‘prefers’ white people to black people. Does that make it racist?

This is going viral on YouTube – and no surprise. The fact that the software / hardware can’t identify Black Desi but happily tracks and follows White Wanda is quite amazing. In the video, Desi is good humoured (if a little surprised).

In the wider world, however, this of course raises some big questions about the unchallenged assumptions that are what we mean when we say ‘institutionalised racism’. Whether or not it’s the truth, it’s all too easy to imagine a cluster of young, white geeky guys developing this technology. If it is true, then it gives us a glimpse of an unconscious aspect of racism: that if we’re white, we just don’t just think about being black.

In terms of online reputation, how HP handles this from here on in will be telling – and hugely important. All I can say is that I hope they deal with it with the same mixture of lightness, seriousness and openness as Desi and Wanda did.

On first investigation, I can’t find much response from HP.  There is this… and Mashable goes into more detail here….  Mashable seems to just want to write it off as a technological failing.  I disagree. I think it’s more revealing than that.

And is anyone else surprised that HP didn’t respond in the same medium (YouTube) the way that Domino’s did over that infamous YouTube video?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post