HP Webcam: A Case of Cyber Racism?

In case you’ve missed it, there’s a lot of discussion whirling around the web these days about a HP-designed webcam that seems to read the faces of white people and not the faces of black folks.  Some are accusing HP of racism.  Is this a case of cyber racism? It all got started by this, rather funny, video (2:16):

I have to agree with Angry Black Woman (and cross-posted at Alas, a Blog) ~ I see a case of “privilege and blindness” with regard to race rather than intentional racism.


  1. Joe

    Of course, it is very much a part of the way systemic and institutionalized racism works. The structures of white privilege and power are part of a deep foundational racism that shapes how whites are ‘blind’ about these issues…. some comments to the Angry Black Woman discussion are quite revealing on this point….

  2. Illusions

    I personally dont see “racism” here, but a bug. And, I see a bug that will be addressed. From;


    “Some of you may have seen or heard of a YouTube video in which the facial-tracking software didn’t work for a customer. We thank Desi, and the people who have seen and commented on his video, for bringing this subject to our attention.

    We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting. While we work on this, take a look here for more information on the impact of lighting on facial tracking software, and how to optimize your webcam experience: http://bit.ly/7HsZHD

    We will continue to listen to you and work to deliver great experiences. We invite you to connect with us on the discussion boards and forums here on The Next Bench or on Twitter at @HP_PC. ”

    People are human. That may seem like an obvious statement, but the point is, they just cant think of everything. Thats why we have the word “bug” because they happen frequently enough for there to have been a need to name the phenomenon. I think that seeing boogeymen where none exist has the same effect as crying “Wolf” too often. People become so tired of the whole thing, they simply ignore it all together. In my opinion that works against the cause of ending discrimination in America, not for it.


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