This is as bad as structural violence/structural racism. Welcome to the CHAOTIC world of Earth. Capitalism has infected the world.
What can a viral video of a “racist” soap dispenser tell you about the world of technology? A surprising amount, apparently.
Chukwuemeka Afigbo, a Nigerian man who works in tech, tweeted a short video of a “racist” automatic soap dispenser that appears to dish out soap to a white person’s hand but not a black person’s. As you can tell by its 130,000+ retweets and the number of laughing emoji reactions it received, it can be seen simply as a funny viral video.
But as Chukwuemeka points out, this highlights a bigger issue. The no-touch soap dispenser most likely uses some kind of light sensor to detect when a hand is beneath the contraption. Apparently, a dark-skinned hand wasn’t light enough to register on the sensor. This simple problem would have been avoided if it had been tested on a variety of skin tones. That, of course, requires people working in the industry from a variety of backgrounds.
There are plenty more examples of this. Soap dispensers, for one, seem to be particularly bad at dealing with different skin tones. In the past, Flickr and Google were both forced to apologize when their automatic image labeling systems were tagging photos of black people with “ape” and “gorilla".