15 Jun How AI Photo Editors Highlight the Need for Artificial Intelligence Developers in the Caribbean
This week at Incus Services, we’ve been noticing that our social media timelines are flooded with artificial intelligence (AI) photos generated through free software readily available on the Google Play Store and the App Store for Apple Devices.
Another quality of these apps that increases their popularity is that the user doesn’t need to make an account, merely tolerate the onslaught of ads.
It started with a few sporadic users on our social media, and then news of the app spread. So, CEO Leslie Lee Fook, and writer, Amanda Zilla decided to become application users for fun as a break from the busy June we’ve been having and they encouraged their Incus friends to try it out.
Of course, true to Incus’ existence as a company driven by the ethos of Caribbean digital transformation, we couldn’t help but critique it through this lens.
In this blog post, we’ll be sharing photos comparing our human selves with our virtual ones as a point of departure for discussing how and why Caribbean input in the artificial intelligence industry is needed now more than ever and how we can get started as a region.
Disclaimer: Pic Collage was used to develop comparative images and is not the photo editing software being discussed throughout this post.
Leslie Lee Fook, Incus Services CEO
The Caribbean: A Region like No Other
The Caribbean is a region populated by individuals with many different backgrounds and cultures all melting together to create a space that is unique and impossible to replicate.
One thing that these cultures have in common is they each have their own beauty standards and often, those standards are different from the United States or Europe.
Regional artificial intelligence developers can create software that powers applications, like artificial intelligence photo editors, for people of the Caribbean allowing them to create images with more diverse representations of beauty. This enables the Caribbean population to see themselves more clearly represented through technology.
While media can serve as a catalyst for subscribing to particular ideas of beauty or acceptability, as Caribbean AI technology developers we can rewrite those ideologies through the writing of algorithms targeted towards a Caribbean audience.
Amanda Zilla, Writer
What did we notice from the Photo Editor?
As expected, the photo editor changed our features in a number of ways.
Some of us got slimmer noses, cleared acne scars, smoothened wrinkles, tans, tan removals, narrower faces, or in some cases, even a hair makeover in the form of dye.
A lot of these changes were consistent with concepts that were deemed as being conventionally beautiful international, specifically American or European standards.
Raewatee Heeraman, Insights Analyst
While these can be seen as being problematic due to colorism, ageism, and other forms of discrimination, we couldn’t blame the application itself.
Artificial Intelligence is not as mystical as we would like to believe, and it can only produce results based on the data and code in its modeling and the content that it learns from. Anyone who would have engaged with information technology in any context would be familiar with the phrase “Garbage In. Garbage Out” and the same idea can be readily applied here.
Tymea Richards, Data Analytics Intern
The user isn’t the person uploading the problematic content, but rather the application itself is internally developed to produce output defined by particular characteristics which can create exclusion within a diverse user base.
Leslie’s and Amanda’s AI photos were further edited to look more like their original photos. The others included in this article were not.
Let’s see if you can spot the differences as we continue.
Our next action step was to get inside the application’s function, so we reversed the process.
Nateesha Gajadhar, Marketing & Administration
What Happens When You Upload A Photo that was Already Edited into the Application?
It makes further changes to the faces as the algorithms see fit.
Can you detect the changes the application made when we input AI photos of Operations Manager, Samantha Singh and Digital Marketing Officer, Melissa Stoute?
The photo on the left is of each grid, is the original photograph, the top right is the first AI image generated and the bottom right is the result of running the last AI photo result, through the application again.
So what does this mean in terms of the function of the application?
Well, it’s likely that the software is mapping multiple faces onto your own face in order to generate the artificial intelligence photograph. It can only detect what changes are needed based on the faces that were used when the software was developed.
It could also explain why members of our team felt like the AI results were even a bit androgynous in some instances.
Jude Agostini, Director SMB Services Limited
While we might think that artificial intelligence is smart all on its own, its internal models inform what is done with the input. The software can only make changes based on what it was trained to make.
For us, the output we received addresses the importance of the intersection among creative drive, technological knowledge, and cultural sensibility and sensitivity as technology continues to advance, and as we use continue to use it to optimize and innovate.
Lucky for us, these are all qualities that can be found embedded in the millions of persons residing in the region and the digital landscape of the Caribbean.
Artificial Intelligence in the Caribbean: We Need More than Photo Editing Software
While we more readily subscribe to the widespread use of AI for entertainment purposes, it possesses a world of potential for transforming the Caribbean. AI and machine learning can make many industries within the Caribbean more efficient and productive.
Artificial intelligence has the power to positively influence agriculture, aviation, sustainable development, environmental conservation, banking, insurance, human resources, and many other sectors. The list is truly inexhaustible.
Here at Incus Services, it is our intention to use our blog and social media platforms to continue our message of regional digital transformation and we will continue to show you how AI, machine learning, and robotics can help to improve many of the operational tasks across the listed industries and more. We also offer workshops through the Incus Academy for those who wish to increase their digital literacy skills.
While application development is essential, so too is the need for public information and education on its implementation. Consider this post as a clarion call for change and the marching music that the region needs in order to march forward into a technology and data-driven future.
How Do We Begin Creating Our Own AI Applications?
There is a definite need for developers to create AI applications that can be used in the Caribbean and the local and regional talent certainly exists. However, the region is not always as visible in global AI development networks.
The only way to change this is to begin creating AI applications that will drive the region forward in AI development and that is targeted towards citizens of the region.
This technology can be applied to a wide range of industries and it is imperative that the Caribbean region leads in the automation of the archipelago.
If you’re inspired to participate in the technological changes happening in the Caribbean, especially where data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are concerned, but you are unsure of where to begin or cannot code or program, check out the Three Most Powerful Analytics Techniques for our framework.
There is room on this digital transformation journey, even for those who are unable or are still learning to program and it is important for us to continue recognizing the spaces in the technoscape that can be filled by Caribbean content.