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We ‘messed up’ with black Nazi blunder, Google co-founder admits

Google's woke imagery of black nazi soldier
Mr Brin said people's stress-testing of the chatbot leads to it producing controversial results

Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin has admitted that the company “messed up” after its AI chatbot created images of black Nazis.

Speaking at an “hackathon” event on Saturday in Silicon Valley, Mr Brin said the system was not thoroughly tested before being released to the public.

It comes after the company suffered widespread ridicule when its Gemini program inserted ethnic minority groups when asked to create images of people from history who were white.

As well as black Nazis and native American vikings, it also portrayed the US founding fathers as a diverse group.

At a meeting of the AGI House, a Silicon Valley AI group, Mr Brin said: “We definitely messed up on the image generation; I think it was mostly due to just not thorough testing and it definitely, for good reasons, upset a lot of people.”

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At the meeting on Saturday, Mr Brin said: “We definitely messed up on the image generation; I think it was mostly due to just not thorough testing and it definitely, for good reasons, upset a lot of people.”

Google has now suspended Gemini’s ability to generate images. The company was also criticised for answers given by its chatbot, which included failing to condemn paedophilia and refusing to write arguments in favour of oil and gas.

In a video of Saturday’s meeting posted on social media, Mr Brin said the company did not understand why the chatbot “leans left” but said Google had addressed many of the issues in recent days.

He said: “We haven’t fully understood why it leans left in many cases and that’s not our intention.

“If you try it over this last week it should be 80pc better of the test cases that we’ve covered.”

Mr Brin, who co-founded Google with Larry Page in 1998, no longer has a formal role at the company but sits on the board and, along with Mr Page, has ultimate control of the company. He has largely withdrawn from public life.

Mr Brin’s thoughts on the company’s progress came amid pressure on Google chief executive Sundar Pichai over the chatbot debacle.

Mr Brin said that Gemini’s image generation issue had led people to stress-test the company’s chatbot, leading it to spit out controversial answers that many bots would produce.

In examples posted online last week, the bot said it was “difficult to say” whether Hitler or Elon Musk had a more negative impact on society in conversations. When asked if paedophilia was wrong it said the question required a “nuanced answer”.

Mr Brin said: “If you deeply test any text model out there, ours, ChatGPT, [Mr Musk’s] Grok, what have you, it will say some pretty weird things that are out there that definitely feel far left for example.”

Last week, Mr Pichai called the situation “completely unacceptable”.

Mr Brin, the 10th richest person in the world with a net worth of $119bn (£94bn), stepped down as president of Google’s parent company Alphabet in 2019 but has been spotted around Google’s offices more often as the company seeks to respond to the threat of ChatGPT.

He said on Saturday that he was contributing code to the AI project.

Mr Brin said: “I kind of came out of retirement just because the trajectory of AI is so exciting.”

When at Google, Mr Brin spearheaded the company’s Google Glass headset, which was cancelled after poor sales and a backlash. Mr Brin said he “messed up Google Glass” and that the technology was released too early.