PGA Tour Criticized For AI-Generated Images Of Golfers Of Color Showing Them In “Rugged” Backgrounds

An artificial intelligence ethicist is questioning the PGA Tour for its negligence in using AI images of golfers of color.

In a TikTok video, Paige Lord noted images of white golfers in which AI generated the bottom half of the photo, and the backgrounds had them in neutral gray. However, the AI images of two minority golfers, Tony Finau and Collin Morikawa, had what Lord described as “rugged backgrounds.”


Was there bias in the @PGATOUR AI headshots? #ai #pga #golf #pgatour #aiethics #algorithmicbias #reaponsibleai #ml #aiml #greenscreen

♬ original sound – Paige Lord

“I think it’s important to address two things related to this,” Lord said in the video. “The first one is that there’s bias in AI and that AI is largely beholden to whatever it has been trained on. So, for example, if the image completion portion of this AI has been trained on photos of people of color standing in what might look like a dilapidated area, then it might complete a photo of a person of color standing in a dilapidated area.”

Lord added that the PGA Tour’s social media management is responsible for ensuring they are not posting harmful images and thus needs to do better.

“If they’re going to be leveraging artificial intelligence, take a look at what the AI is producing and ask the question about whether or not they want to put that out there in the world,” she said. “Because even if they didn’t aid the AI in creating this — they just put it into the prompt like they did it for everybody else — they still have to understand that AI has bias and that it is their responsibility at the end of the day.”

The photos were posted on the PGA Tour’s Instagram account. The images aren’t the Tour’s only issue regarding diversity. The PGA Tour currently has four Black golfers, Tiger Woods, Harold Varner III, Cameron Champ, and Joseph Bramlet, who make up less than 0.5% of the 250 tour regulars.


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Several HBCU schools have golf programs featuring both men’s and women’s teams, including North Carolina A&T State University, where former NBA Sixth Man Of The Year and Finals Champion J.R. Smith plays after attending college following his retirement from the NBA.

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