The two words I searched in Google images were “white collar job” and “blue collar job”. When searching ‘white collar job” the Google images were of mostly white men and women in suits. The suits are pretty normal considering the work environment related with white collar jobs. But a majority of the page is white.
When searching “blue collar job”, the entire page is construction workers. And the ethnicity is much more diverse.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Google is being sexist or racist. Google’s “bots” are just regurgitating what we put up for them to find. So are we racist? Are we sexist? Or do we just live in a world that favors white men?
There are many different aspects of digital culture that could result in a dystopian vision such as: surveillance culture, the erosion of creative and intellectual freedoms, the stealing of data, propaganda being used to control people, conformity, fear of the outside world, a figurehead being worshipped by the people, freedom of speech/ independent thought are restricted, etc.. I think the one that I find most disturbing is the surveillance culture. The thought of someone or something constantly watching me and watching everything I do makes me extremely uncomfortable. Everything you do could and would be constantly monitored. Privacy would be completely nonexistent. In our present day, people already feel like we do not have enough privacy, whether it being online or out in public, but with a constant surveillance system it would take that and make it so much worse. I find privacy a very important aspect in my life, not because I have things to hid but solely because I don’t think anyone needs to know every aspect of my life and what I do.
I read the Wired.com article “Stalk Yourself At Home With This Free App” which goes along with what I wrote about earlier. This app takes your phone and turns it into a surveillance camera. The company, Camio, takes the videos from the surveillance camera and detects humans and colors in the videos and that is all that can be accessed by people. It is currently used just for home use. This is the start of even more of our privacy being taken away.
The person-related keyword I chose was a Hunter. When googling this word, these were the first 30 person-related images that were shown:
- 6 white male, mid age
- 1 unknown gender/race
- 2 white male, mid age
- 1 unknown gender/race
- 1 white male, mid age
- 1 white male, child
- 4 white male, mid age
- 1 white female, mid age
- 1 white male, mid age
- 1 white female, teen
- 1 unknown race, but was male, mid age
- 10 white male, mid age
87% were white males, all ages. 83% were white males, mid age. 7% were females, all ages.
When looking for the actual demographics I found that it said that the majority of hunters were:
About 89% are males, 11% females. 98% of hunters are white, other races are 2% total. The largest age group was 55 to 64 years old.
It seems as though google was pretty spot on with the reality of the true demographics of hunters. If I had looked at 5,000 images on google, then there probably would have been more females and other races. Since the majority of hunters are white males, mid-age it is reasonable to see the search result that I saw. Even the cartoon characters where very obviously white males.
I searched up Teacher on google. Four out of the 30 images that came up were men, the rest were white women. Although 2 of the men were African American.
To test out the google images algorithm, I used the keyword nurse. In reality people often think of a nurse to be a woman, however many men are nurses too. However, google goes along with this common notion that nurses are typically woman. In the first 30 images there is only one male nurse and he does not come till after 21 female nurses. It’s also interesting because when I click on the picture of the male nurse in the description it specifically notes that this is a “male nurse” however when you click on any of the female ones the only description is “nurse”. Along with gender, race is also very poorly represented. In the first 30 there are only two people of color, one being the male and then a female even further on. Both of these stereotypes however do correlate with real demographics. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, a national survey of registered nurses found that men only made up 7% of employed nurses and 83.2% were white as of 2008, however the trend is going down as more minorities become nurses. Although this is the case, I think google should still try to incorporate them into google images more often