‘Style Vision’ is Google’s less harmful April Fool’s prank
Fri 1 Apr 2016
After causing havoc with a new ‘prank’ feature in Gmail that is rumoured to have cost some people their jobs, Google has added a less painful entry to its rostrum of April 1st tomfoolery, by suggesting that its AI-driven Cloud Vision API is actually capable of detecting ‘style’ in people.
The announcement comes with an extraordinary elaborate video, the editing-style of which tips off the viewer early that ‘Style Vision’ might not be on the level. For the more obtuse, the clues mount as the video proceeds, including the participation of French style guru ‘Evian Bouteille D’Eau’ (Evian bottle of water).
Finally all doubt is removed when we see a stream of participants stepping up to an analysis booth apparently powered by Style Vision, to receive some extraordinary style summaries. A young woman shrouded in a beanie, cardigan and sunglasses gets the adjudication ‘HANGOVER-BRUNCH: LIKELY’; an older, white-bearded man with ‘DEMON_POCKETS’ receives the summary ‘SORCERER: VERY LIKELY’; and two generic thirties males with hair-gel and cheap ties are labelled ‘STOCK_PHOTO: DEFINITELY’.
Style Vision is a fictional facet of a real system which leverages TensorFlow and other Google-driven technologies to provide a REST API which is capable of image recognition, including logos, faces, obscene imagery and OCR facilities.
However it is Google’s other April first prank which has generated all the news today. The addition of ‘mic drop’ as a feature in Gmail has apparently caused mayhem, and even job loss.
The feature, now hastily dropped from Gmail, allowed users to effectively storm out of an email thread with a stylish and final flourish, by sending a ‘final’ reply to a mail thread, accompanied by an animated GIF demonstrating that the user is done with this particular subject. This is effectively a highly-decorated version of an ‘ignore’ command, wherein the mail program is told not to bother the user any further with replies to that particular thread.
Since it is still the 1st of April, it is hard to tell if the Google Forum user who claimed the feature cost him a job is really serious. In any case the Mic Drop button apparently did not function as intended, reportedly getting activated by a user pressing on the regular blue ‘Send’ button.