Incident 63: Google Photo Merge Decapitates Subject

Description: Google Photos' AI Assistant created a strange hybrid photograph when merging three different pictures from a ski trip.


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Alleged: Google developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Alex Harker.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor

CSETv0 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Full Description

According to Android user Alex Harker, the Google Photos AI assistant created a strange hybrid of three photos he took on a ski trip. Two of the photos were of a forest landscape, while one photo was of Harker's friend. Google Photos created a stranged merged photo showing the friend's head half-merged behind the trees.

Short Description

Google Photos' AI Assistant created a strange hybrid photograph when merging three different pictures from a ski trip.



AI System Description

Facial recognition software used by Google Photo Assistant

System Developer


Sector of Deployment

Arts, entertainment and recreation

Relevant AI functions

Perception, Cognition

AI Techniques

Facial recognition

AI Applications

Facial recognition


Banff, Alberta

Named Entities

Google Photos, Assistant, Android, Alex Harker, Alberta

Technology Purveyor


Beginning Date


Ending Date


Near Miss




Lives Lost


Data Inputs


CSETv1 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Harm Distribution Basis


Sector of Deployment

Arts, entertainment and recreation, information and communication

Incident Reports

Google Photos tried to fix this ski photo · 2018

Google Photos’ intrepid Assistant just wants to help.

Part of the Android-maker’s photo app, it helps organize the thousands of photos stored on your phone. It can make little albums of places you went based on geolocation data, and through…


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.

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