An Apple Photos feature has suddenly sparked widespread shock on social media platforms, especially among women. Apple’s machine learning and AI, embedded into its photo-library app ‘Photos’, apparently enables a feature in the app which most women now find ‘disturbing’. A recent tweet has brought into light the ‘categorisation’ feature of the Apple Photos app. As per the tweet, searching for “brassiere” in the Photos app displays sensitive photos of the users, essentially the ones in which the users are wearing bras, lingerie or bikinis. While the women all over the globe are freaking out about this, it can all be blamed upon a very simple understanding of Apple’s AI.
ATTENTION ALL GIRLS ALL GIRLS!!! Go to your photos and type in the ‘Brassiere’ why are apple saving these and made it a folder!!?!!?😱😱😱😱— ell (@ellieeewbu) 30 October 2017
The machine learning used in Apple Photos groups together pictures of a similar kind under adequate tags. This is done in order to help the user find a particular photo in the phone’s library with ease. Working on the same principle, the Photos app categorises semi-nude pictures of a user under a folder “Brassiere” and shows the same in the results when a search is made using this tag. The feature is nothing new and has been a part of the app since long.
This raises a bigger, more serious concern though. Is Apple collecting the data (in this case, pictures) for further development of its machine learning? If yes, this is a serious privacy concern for most of the iPhone users. This, however, is not the case. Time and again, Apple has revealed that most of the learning by its software, including facial recognition, object and scene detection is done natively on an Apple device and no information is withdrawn by Apple for this purpose, meaning that the data of the Apple users is completely private.
Apple has been using such image recognition AI since the launch of iOS 10. A similar AI based categorisation of pictures can also be seen in ‘Google Photos’, which is even creepier than this, considering it automatically saves the photos on to Google Cloud, unless a user deactivates the auto-sync of Photos.
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