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Description: Google’s new skin tone scale for sophisticated search results




Among the multiple artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) initiatives that Google unveiled at its annual I / O Developers Conference last week, there were several projects to train Internet companies’ AI platforms. One such development is the introduction of a 10-color Monkskin Tone (MST) scale, which may have broader sociological significance as technology platforms witness deeper intersections with society as a whole. bottom. In Google’s terms, MST Scale supports comprehensive products and research across the industry.

What is the Monkskin Tone Scale?

Developed in collaboration with Dr. Ellismonk, an associate professor of sociology at Harvard University, the Monkskin Tone (MST) Scale is a tool primarily incorporated into computer vision by Google. Understand the image. Computer vision systems often do not work as efficiently as people with darker tones and people with lighter tones. Google and the tech industry will use the MST scale to build more representative datasets and train such AI models to be able to identify a wider range of skin tones in images. I am aiming for.

How does it work?

According to Google, this scale will “make it easier for people of all backgrounds to find more relevant and useful search results.” For example, users who search for makeup and beauty tutorials on Google Image Search will have the option to further refine their search results by skin color. Going forward, Google will use the MST scale to better detect and classify images to provide a wider range of results.

Technology giants have further expanded their use of this schema to extend the structure of databases created based on different skin tones, allowing creators and online businesses to do other things such as hair color and hair texture. We plan to be able to label content and products based on their attributes. Google has released a scale for everyone to use for research and product development.

Why MST scale?

According to Dr. Courtney Heldreth, a social psychologist and user experience (UX) researcher in the Googles Responsible AI Human-Centered Technology UX division, because of prejudice and discrimination against dark-skinned individuals, also known as colorism. There is permanent inequality around the world. Also, the fact that AI does not accurately recognize skin color can lead to further existing inequality, which is a kind of colorism.

To fill this gap, Google’s research team, including Product Manager Xango Eye working on Heldreth and Responsible AI, focused on bringing more skin tone fairness to AI development. Last year, the team partnered with a monk doing research focused on how factors such as skin color, race, and ethnicity affect inequality.

The basis of the MST scale is based on the existing Fitzpatrick scale developed by American dermatologist Thomas B Fitzpatrick in 1975, classifying human skin types into seven broad colors. Thousands of adults in the United States felt that the Google team and monks reached a scale of 10 shades that were pegged to be less restrictive and not too complex, and were more represented by the new methodology. I investigated.

Are there any other similar developments?

Several large corporations are working towards color-based inclusiveness in the light of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the aftermath of police atrocities and the murder of 46-year-old African-American George Floyd. Strengthened. In 2020, Johnson & Johnson-owned Band-Aid launched a new range of bandages in different shades of black and brown to make it a more comprehensive product for people of color. In India, in response to opposition to discrimination against dark-skinned people and strong public feedback, the Indian Advertising Standards Council (ASCI) published guidelines for advertising whitening and fairness products in 2014. More recently, in 2020, the cosmetics brand Fair & Lovely, owned by Hindustan Unilever, was renamed Glow & Lovely after being criticized for promoting colorism in advertising and marketing campaigns.




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