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Google rows back AI-image tool after WWII gaffe

Google has said it will stop users from creating images of people on its newly launched artificial intelligence (AI) tool after the programme depicted Nazi-era troops as people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

The US tech firm, which only released its revamped Gemini AI in some parts of the world on 8 February, said it was “working to address recent issues” with the 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,” the company said in a statement.

It comes two days after a user of X posted images showing Gemini’s results for the prompt “generate an image of a 1943 German soldier”.

The AI had generated four images of soldiers – one was white, one black, and two were women of colour, according to the X user named John L.

Tech companies see AI as the future for everything from search engines to smartphone cameras.

But AI programmes – not only those produced by Google – have been widely criticised for perpetuating race biases in their results.

“@GoogleAI has a bolted on diversity mechanism that someone did not think through very well or test,” John L wrote on X.

Big tech firms have often been accused of rushing out AI products before they have been properly tested.

Google has a chequered history of launching AI products.

Last February, the firm apologised after an advert for its newly released Bard chatbot showed the programme getting a basic question about astronomy wrong.

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