Go back to 2016 and remember quickly, draw! – an AI AI experience from Google who guessed what users were scribbling. It was essentially AI Pictionary, and Google then published the millions of sketches collected as an open source dataset.
But there was a doodle that Google 's AI had never recognized and that never appeared in its data: the humble penis.
It sounds childish, but it's a kind of big omission. The penis is perhaps the most important and lasting scribble of all time. It's a seal that has been scribbled on surfaces for thousands of years – from Roman walls to medieval manuscripts – and in different ways signifies luck, virility, or simply "I'm a man and I was here ".
To remedy Google's mistake, the Mozilla Foundation commissioned the Dutch design studio Moniker to build a penis scribing detector for AI. It's a little ridiculous, but Moniker and Mozilla say they're also making a serious case: at a time when American tech giants are controlling much of what we see online, should we worry about moral standards that they set themselves?
You can test the penis detector here. When you scribble a penis, it says "we assume it's a mistake" and erase it, warning users: "Do not push the individual expression too far!" Shoot it enough to to shoot a mad tirade scribbling in a frenzy.
Moniker, Roel Wouters, tells The edge The inability of Google's artificial intelligence to recognize a penile scribble is trivial, but it's still a powerful symbol of the power of tech giants. He cites the example of the nipple ban imposed by Facebook and Instagram as a more serious example of American modesty imposed on the world.
"The fact is that we believe that our moral compass should not be in the hands of advanced technology," says Wouters. "We are questioning the fact that we have entrusted the responsibility for our social infrastructure in exchange for" free "use without even realizing it. Do not you think it's a bit odd that Instagram's "community guidelines" regarding image sharing are binding on all citizens and all cultures of the world? "
Wouters says he personally loves Google, Quick, Draw! project, and even used the company's artificial intelligence software, TensorFlow, to build its alternative. But he points out that the more companies use artificial intelligence to moderate their online platforms, the more the risk of mistaken censorship – or even self-censorship – increases. Knowing that an AI could spot our thoughts or feelings, we may never be able to express them.
The project does not really concern the "freedom of expression," says Wouters, but a reminder "of undesirable powers of advanced technology and their paternalistic government tendencies." He adds, "For us, scribbling a penis is a slight symbol for a rebellious act. "
This has been true for thousands of years, whether the company's AI recognizes it or not.