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Asian MIT Student's Professional Headshot Turns Caucasian with AI Tool

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An artificial intelligence image generator transformed an image of 24-year-old Rona Wang, who is Asian (at left), into that of a blond woman who appears to be Caucasian (right).

Credit: Twitter

An Asian MIT graduate was shocked at the aftermath of prompting an artificial intelligence image generator to create a professional portrait of herself for her LinkedIn profile. The result: it made her white, with blue eyes and lighter skin.

24-year-old Rona Wang, who studied math and computer science, had been exploring the AI-image creator Playground AI, and took the generated photos to Twitter. The first photo showed Wang in a red MIT sweatshirt, which was entered into the image generator with the prompt "Give the girl from the original photo a professional linkedin profile photo." The second photo was the AI-altered one that clearly modified her features to make her appear more Caucasian.

In a report, Wang said that she was initially amused upon seeing the result, but pleased to see that this started a "larger conversation around AI bias." She revealed that she had been put off using AI-image tools because she had not gotten any "usable results." In her previous encounters with these tools, she often got images of herself with disjointed fingers and distorted facial features. Now, even more concerning, it was the recurring issue of racial bias.

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