Google halted Gemini's image generation of people after it drew images of people of color holding positions historically held by whites

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

February 22, 2024

2 Min Read
Image of a Latino founding father
Gemini image generation of an American founding fatherSocial media

At a Glance

  • Google's Gemini large language model is having trouble drawing white people in positions they historically held, like popes.
  • Google has stopped image generations of people on Gemini for now. Gemini was Google's answer to OpenAI's GPT-4.
  • Images of a black pope and female Asian medieval knight were lambasted on social media.

Google’s flagship Gemini large language model paused its image generation of people after it was criticized for poor handling of race. This time, the affront was against Caucasians.

When asked to generate images of Vikings and German World War II troops – historically held by white people − Gemini depicted them as people of color.

“We're already working to address recent issues with Gemini's image generation feature. While we do this, we're going to pause the image generation of people and will re-release an improved version soon,” Google said via X (Twitter).

Google did not address any specific images but the generations were widely shared on social media. Among the examples included a pope and medieval knights.

Gemini’s image generation abilities are currently limited to the U.S. market. Any attempt to create an image of people using the platform was blocked this week.

When AI Business tried generating an image of the pope on Gemini Advanced, the paid version of Gemini, what came out was an abstract of blue and white swirls. Asked to generate German soldiers from WWII, Gemini declined.

When asked to draw an image of a nurse, it said, “We are working to improve Gemini’s ability to generate images of people. We expect this feature to return soon and will notify you in release updates when it does.” But when asked to generate an image of a bear, Gemini obliged.

Related:Google's New Gemini 1.5 Can Handle 700,000 Words at a Time

Gemini is ‘woke’?

Gemini’s image generation issues caused outrage among some internet users, who claimed it was ‘woke.’

Former Google software engineer Debarghya Das said it was “embarrassingly hard to get Google Gemini to acknowledge that white people exist.”

View post on X

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Gemini was “just the tip of the iceberg." He was responding to a post that claimed wokeness and “anti-whiteness” was built into Gemini.

Musk alleged that “the same is being done” with Google Search, though failed to elaborate further.

Musk is known for his dogged determination to search for and disseminate the truth. He founded an AI startup called xAI whose goal was to truly understand the universe.

Thus far, the startup has created a ChatGPT rival called Grok imbued with Musk's definition of freedom of speech. The chatbot's language is largely not curbed; it has fewer filters and it will answer questions most other AI systems would reject.

Read more about:

ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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