The Google Cloud Vision APITrack this API will no longer provide gender determination as part of its image analysis functionality. The announcement directly affects the ‘LABEL_DETECTION’ function of the API which prior to today would return labels such as ‘woman’ or ‘man’.
The API update was announced to developers via email and then subsequently shared on Twitter by Journalist Sriram Sharma. Google’s email noted that it is impossible to determine gender based on appearance and any attempt to do so could lead to the creation or reinforcement of unfair bias.
Going forward the API will return a label such as ‘person’ in place of the previously gendered responses. The email update was sent to all Google Cloud Vision API users that had implemented the ‘LABEL_DETECTION’ function in the past 6 months. Additionally, the email urged developers to test this new functionality and noted the possibility that the new implementation may fail to label people correctly. Google is recommending that in the event that labeling fails developers may need to find other options, such as training custom models using AutoML Vision.