The racism of technology – and why driverless cars could be the most dangerous example yet

Machine vision is struggling to recognise darker-skinned pedestrians, and cost pressures could make things worse There is a rule for dealing with computers: garbage in, garbage out. Put the wrong number of zeroes in your Excel spreadsheet and it will unthinkingly pay your staff pennies on the pound; train a self-driving car to recognise human figures by showing it millions of pictures of white people, and it might struggle to identify pedestrians of other races. That was the notoriously failed to discern black people from gorillas. Almost every product design has failed to grapple with the reality of humanity, from that refuse to acknowledge the presence of a brown hand but will trigger for a white one. A 10-tonne driverless …