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Mother speaks of her fight to have the deceased father of her twins put on their birth certificate

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mother speaks of her fight to have the deceased father of her twins put on their birth certificate

A mother-of-three has started a petition to have the father of her twin daughters put on their birth certificate after he was hit by a train and killed when she was five months pregnant. 

Grace Lewis, 26, from Romford, Havering, expressed her sadness after her late partner Billy Townsend, 24, never got to meet their daughters Billie-Rose and Bella-Rae Townsend, 18 months. 

Billy was struck by a fast-moving train at Goodmayes Station in Ilford on the morning of July 31 2018 when, fearing he would be late, the duct worker crossed the tracks to a different platform. 

He sadly died at The Royal London Hospital on 3rd August after he was taken off his life support machine. 

Grace Lewis, 26, (pictured with her son Mason from a previous relationship) from Romford, Havering, expressed her sadness after her late partner Billie Townsend (pictured), 24, never got to meet their daughters Billy-Rose and Bella-Rae Townsend, 18 months

Grace Lewis, 26, (pictured with her son Mason from a previous relationship) from Romford, Havering, expressed her sadness after her late partner Billie Townsend (pictured), 24, never got to meet their daughters Billy-Rose and Bella-Rae Townsend, 18 months

Grace Lewis, 26, (pictured with her son Mason from a previous relationship) from Romford, Havering, expressed her sadness after her late partner Billie Townsend (pictured), 24, never got to meet their daughters Billy-Rose and Bella-Rae Townsend, 18 months

Tragically the incident occurred just three days after a family garden party where the unmarried couple announced the gender of their twins. Billy was reportedly in ‘high spirits’ for at the prospect of their future together.  

Grace, who gave birth to the twins in November 2018 and is also mother to four-year-old Mason from a previous relationship, has started a petition to have Billy put on their birth certificates. 

The former accounts assistant revealed how, shortly after his funeral, she started looking into having him put on their daughters’ birth certificates, having been warned it could be a lengthy process. 

She visited a citizen’s advice service in September 2018, where she was informed that because the twins were non-identical, they could have different fathers, which could add another complication. 

Grace, who gave birth to the twins in November 2018 and is also mother to four-year-old Mason (pictured) from a previous relationship, has started a petition to have Billy put on their birth certificates. Pictured: Bella-Rae (left) and Billie-Rose (right)

Grace, who gave birth to the twins in November 2018 and is also mother to four-year-old Mason (pictured) from a previous relationship, has started a petition to have Billy put on their birth certificates. Pictured: Bella-Rae (left) and Billie-Rose (right)

Grace, who gave birth to the twins in November 2018 and is also mother to four-year-old Mason (pictured) from a previous relationship, has started a petition to have Billy put on their birth certificates. Pictured: Bella-Rae (left) and Billie-Rose (right)

Grace was told a DNA test would need to be completed on each child which would then be referred to the East London Family Court for a judge to approve Billy’s name being put on the certificates. 

Speaking to FEMAIL, Grace, who has been campaigning for the certificates for nearly two years, said: ‘I understand the measures that the government needs to take, but as a grieving partner, and as someone who is grieving for her unborn children, it seems a bit drastic. 

‘It could take years just to get his name put on the birth certificate. Billy would have been such an amazing dad – he already has another daughter, Maisie, who is seven.

Grace revealed how shortly after the twins were born she spoke to the registrar who confirmed two individual DNA tests and a court order would be needed to amend the certificates to feature Billy's name

Grace revealed how shortly after the twins were born she spoke to the registrar who confirmed two individual DNA tests and a court order would be needed to amend the certificates to feature Billy's name

Grace revealed how shortly after the twins were born she spoke to the registrar who confirmed two individual DNA tests and a court order would be needed to amend the certificates to feature Billy’s name

‘To have to go to such extreme lengths just to have his name, and rightly so, put under the father category on the birth certificate just seems so unfair.’ 

Grace revealed how shortly after the twins were born she spoke to the registrar who confirmed two individual DNA tests and a court order would be needed to amend the certificates. 

She added: ‘I need a declaration of parentage first, where you have to send a birth certificate. But even on that form there is no where to state that the parent is deceased. 

‘The lengths that I am having to go to just to put his name on is just extreme.’ 

Grace, who started the petition at the weekend, revealed how she was amazed by the support in just 48 hours. It has already amassed 2,659 signatures

Grace, who started the petition at the weekend, revealed how she was amazed by the support in just 48 hours. It has already amassed 2,659 signatures

Grace, who started the petition at the weekend, revealed how she was amazed by the support in just 48 hours. It has already amassed 2,659 signatures

Grace revealed how Billy’s brother Matt Townsend would be the closest DNA match in helping the girls have their father on their certificates, and told how his family is supporting her. 

She added: ‘The whole family are all striving to achieve it because Billy was such a proud person. 

‘He donated five of his organs and if he was willing to go to such great lengths to help people, then I will do what I can to help other women that I dread to think have a similar situation to me. 

Grace added how she is hoping someone can point her in the right direction regarding the documents that need to be sent and in what order after revealing how 'confusing' the process is. Pictured with Billy

Grace added how she is hoping someone can point her in the right direction regarding the documents that need to be sent and in what order after revealing how 'confusing' the process is. Pictured with Billy

Grace added how she is hoping someone can point her in the right direction regarding the documents that need to be sent and in what order after revealing how ‘confusing’ the process is. Pictured with Billy 

Grace continued: ‘Even if they relax it just a little bit and make it a bit easier, that is just what I am striving to reach. It is the prolonging, the extremity of it and having to go to court.’ 

Speaking about the emotional strain of losing a partner as a new mother while juggling this battle, Grace said: ‘I feel now I am at a place to do it, whereas before I wasn’t mentally prepared to fight for it. 

Why can’t a deceased father’s name be put on the birth certificate?

Under current law, a married parent can register both the mother and father’s names on a birth certificate, even if their partner is not present. There is a legal presumption that the spouse is the parent. 

An unmarried partner must either sign the birth certificate or, if not present, must complete a statutory declaration of parentage. This will enable the birth to be registered or re-registered if it has previously been registered with only one parent.

If one unmarried parent dies before the birth of their child can be registered, Section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986 takes over and requires an application to the Family Court for a Declaration of Parentage.

In reality, a court would set a date for a directions hearing, which is the first opportunity a judge gets to assess the case. The court would most likely order statements from relevant people, such as the mother and paternal grandparents, and a DNA test, paid for by the family. 

Then there would be a further hearing when the order would be made. Within 21 days of the order, the Registrar would receive the order and re-register the birth, and issue a further birth certificate with the deceased named as the child’s legal father. The process carries a court fee. 

Source: Stowe Family Law 

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‘My children have the right for it and I want to do it for them because at some point when they are older I will have to go through what happened with them.

‘We are constantly talking about their dad and looking at pictures and they have his memory. But when it comes to the point of telling them, I would like to show them what we had done for them. 

‘Just for them to know what a good person he was, and what we were willing to do to have him put on there for him.’    

She added: ‘What frustrates me as well is that anyone could walk into a registry office with someone, to be put on the birth certificate without proof they are the father.

‘I don’t see why there is such a big fuss when it is so easy to get any random name put on it – yet I can’t get a deceased person put on it. To me, it seems completely wrong.’  

The mother added how she is hoping someone can point her in the right direction regarding the documents that need to be sent and in what order after revealing how ‘confusing’ the process is.  

‘My girls will never have that chance to hear Billy’s voice, although we have videos. To physically see him or hear him and he never got the chance to see them walk or laugh,’ she said. 

‘It just feels like he has been taken the chance to see them grow so why can’t he just have that one small right to be on their birth certificate? 

‘That is all he is left with in rights. It’s like they have made it so hard on purpose and I will fight tooth and nail for it as much as I can.’

Speaking about life as a single-parent during lockdown, Grace said it has been ‘hard’ especially as Billy-Rose has trouble with walking and is awaiting a referral.

Yet, she added: ‘It is more memories I am making with my children.’ 

Grace, who started the petition at the weekend, said she was amazed by the support in just 48 hours, which has already amassed 2,659 signatures.  

‘It’s amazing, I am really shocked. It does show that when people pull together things can be achieved,’ she said. 

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Luciano Pavarotti’s widow Nicoletta Mantovani marries Alberto Tinarelli

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luciano pavarottis widow nicoletta mantovani marries alberto tinarelli

Luciano Pavarotti’s widow Nicoletta Mantovani has married financial advisor Alberto Tinarelli after just nine months of dating.

The couple wed at Sant Antoni da Padova Basilic church in her native Bologna on September 20. 

Their star-studded guestlist included Nicoletta’s close friend singer-songwriter Filippo Neviani, known by his stage name Nek, Italian flutist Andrea Griminelli, and his glamorous fashion designer wife Rossana Redondo.

Nicoletta, 50, was accompanied by daughter Alice, 17, whom she shares with the late opera star who died from pancreatic cancer aged 71 in September 2007, and her parents Gianni and Gianna Mantovani.

Luciano Pavarotti's widow Nicoletta Mantovani has married financial advisor Alberto Tinarelli after just nine months of dating

Luciano Pavarotti's widow Nicoletta Mantovani has married financial advisor Alberto Tinarelli after just nine months of dating

Luciano Pavarotti’s widow Nicoletta Mantovani has married financial advisor Alberto Tinarelli after just nine months of dating

The couple wed in her native Bologna with a star-studded guestlist and looked very much in love (pictured)

The couple wed in her native Bologna with a star-studded guestlist and looked very much in love (pictured)

The couple wed in her native Bologna with a star-studded guestlist and looked very much in love (pictured)

Nicoletta married the late opera star, who died from pancreatic cancer aged 71 in September 2007, in December 2003

Nicoletta married the late opera star, who died from pancreatic cancer aged 71 in September 2007, in December 2003

Nicoletta married the late opera star, who died from pancreatic cancer aged 71 in September 2007, in December 2003

The couple were also joined by Anna Maria Bernini, a member of the Italian Senate of the Republic, fashion queen Marvi De Angelis, and singers Giovanni Caccamo and Lorenzo Licitra.   

Dressed in a long ice blue gown lace overlay gown with her golden locks in loose waves, Nicoletta looked radiant as she kissed and embraced her new husband, 52.

Alice also wore a lacy blue frock, with an elegant boat neck and cut at the knee, and completed her outfit with silver shoes.

Carrying a bouquet of white roses and blooms, Nicoletta donned stylish black spectacles and accessorised with a simple silver cross necklace.

The couple reportedly enjoyed a sparkling reception with their 150 VIP guests in a private villa. 

Nicoletta, 50, was accompanied by her daughter Alice, 17, pictured, who also wore a lace blue dress like her mother

Nicoletta, 50, was accompanied by her daughter Alice, 17, pictured, who also wore a lace blue dress like her mother

Nicoletta, 50, was accompanied by her daughter Alice, 17, pictured, who also wore a lace blue dress like her mother

Nicoletta's parents Gianni and Gianna Mantovani, pictured with their granddaughter Alice, attended the nuptials at Sant Antoni da Padova Basilic

Nicoletta's parents Gianni and Gianna Mantovani, pictured with their granddaughter Alice, attended the nuptials at Sant Antoni da Padova Basilic

Nicoletta’s parents Gianni and Gianna Mantovani, pictured with their granddaughter Alice, attended the nuptials at Sant Antoni da Padova Basilic

The couple wed at Sant Antoni da Padova Basilic in the bride's native Bologna. Pictured: groom Alberto Tinarelli embraces his new step-daughter Alice Pavarotti

The couple wed at Sant Antoni da Padova Basilic in the bride's native Bologna. Pictured: groom Alberto Tinarelli embraces his new step-daughter Alice Pavarotti

The couple wed at Sant Antoni da Padova Basilic in the bride’s native Bologna. Pictured: groom Alberto Tinarelli embraces his new step-daughter Alice Pavarotti

Among the glamorous VIP guests were Italian flutist Andrea Griminelli and his glamorous fashion designer wife Rossana Redondo (pictured)

Among the glamorous VIP guests were Italian flutist Andrea Griminelli and his glamorous fashion designer wife Rossana Redondo (pictured)

Among the glamorous VIP guests were Italian flutist Andrea Griminelli and his glamorous fashion designer wife Rossana Redondo (pictured)

A year ago film producer Nicoletta admitted she didn’t think there would ‘ever be anyone else’ in her life, telling the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine: ‘One big love in life is enough.’ 

But after being introduced to Alberto, a consultant for a financial services company, by writer Grazia Verasani, the couple reportedly had an ‘instant spark’ and spent lockdown together. 

She previously said: ‘It was love right away. We are so happy. We had no reason to get married, if not for a mad desire to do so.’ 

According to today.it, Nicoletta was eager to marry in a church; she said: ‘For me, as a believer, it was important to declare our love before the Lord.’

She said their wedding would be ‘with the friends we have in our hearts, in the name of simplicity and true things.’

The couple were also joined by Anna Maria Bernini, a member of the Italian Senate of the Republic (pictured)

The couple were also joined by Anna Maria Bernini, a member of the Italian Senate of the Republic (pictured)

Guest fashion queen Marvi De Angelis

Guest fashion queen Marvi De Angelis

The couple were also joined by Anna Maria Bernini, a member of the Italian Senate of the Republic, left, and fashion queen Marvi De Angelis

Dressed in an ice blue gown lace overlay gown with her golden locks in loose waves, Nicoletta looked radiant as she kissed and embraced her new husband Alberto, 52

Dressed in an ice blue gown lace overlay gown with her golden locks in loose waves, Nicoletta looked radiant as she kissed and embraced her new husband Alberto, 52

Dressed in an ice blue gown lace overlay gown with her golden locks in loose waves, Nicoletta looked radiant as she kissed and embraced her new husband Alberto, 52

Nicoletta's close friend singer-songwriter Filippo Neviani, known by his stage name Nek, was a guest

Nicoletta's close friend singer-songwriter Filippo Neviani, known by his stage name Nek, was a guest

Singer Giovanni Caccamo

Singer Giovanni Caccamo

Nicoletta’s close friend singer-songwriter Filippo Neviani, known by his stage name Nek, pictured left, attended, as did fellow musician Giovanni Caccamo

Alice, who lived with the couple during lockdown, during which she got to know her new step-father Alberto, is said to be very happy for her mother.

Speaking about her new husband, Nicoletta told the publication: ‘He is so special that after asking me to marry him he told me that if he saw Alice waver we would never get married again and so he asked her too, who exploded with joy. Now we are a real family.’

Nicoletta was Pavarotti’s second wife and was studying natural sciences at university when they met. Then 23, she had a holiday job working on an equestrian competition, where keen horseman Pavarotti, then 57, spotted her. 

The tenor was married to his first wife Adua Veroni from 1961 to 2000, and they had three daughters, Lorenza, Cristina, and Giuliana. 

A year ago the film producer admitted she didn't think there would 'ever be anyone else' in her life, telling the Daily Mail's Weekend magazine: 'One big love in life is enough.' But after being introduced to Alberto, a consultant for a financial services company, by writer Grazia Verasani, the couple reportedly had an 'instant spark' and spent lockdown together

A year ago the film producer admitted she didn't think there would 'ever be anyone else' in her life, telling the Daily Mail's Weekend magazine: 'One big love in life is enough.' But after being introduced to Alberto, a consultant for a financial services company, by writer Grazia Verasani, the couple reportedly had an 'instant spark' and spent lockdown together

A year ago the film producer admitted she didn’t think there would ‘ever be anyone else’ in her life, telling the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine: ‘One big love in life is enough.’ But after being introduced to Alberto, a consultant for a financial services company, by writer Grazia Verasani, the couple reportedly had an ‘instant spark’ and spent lockdown together

Nicoletta previously said: 'It was love right away. We are so happy. We had no reason to get married, if not for a mad desire to do so'

Nicoletta previously said: 'It was love right away. We are so happy. We had no reason to get married, if not for a mad desire to do so'

Nicoletta previously said: 'It was love right away. We are so happy. We had no reason to get married, if not for a mad desire to do so'

Nicoletta previously said: 'It was love right away. We are so happy. We had no reason to get married, if not for a mad desire to do so'

Nicoletta previously said: ‘It was love right away. We are so happy. We had no reason to get married, if not for a mad desire to do so’

Speaking about her new husband, Nicoletta told the publication: 'He is so special that after asking me to marry him he told me that if he saw Alice waver we would never get married again and so he asked her too, who exploded with joy. Now we are a real family'

Speaking about her new husband, Nicoletta told the publication: 'He is so special that after asking me to marry him he told me that if he saw Alice waver we would never get married again and so he asked her too, who exploded with joy. Now we are a real family'

Speaking about her new husband, Nicoletta told the publication: ‘He is so special that after asking me to marry him he told me that if he saw Alice waver we would never get married again and so he asked her too, who exploded with joy. Now we are a real family’

He and Nicoletta wed on December 13, 2003 after welcoming Alice in January that year. Alice’s twin brother Riccardo, was stillborn after complications.

At the end of his life it was falsely reported their marriage was over, but Nicoletta never left his side and kept their then four-year-old daughter with him, so she would have memories.

Last year a documentary, directed by renowned filmmaker Ron Howard, was released which tracks the legendary opera singer’s life from his humble beginnings as a child in Modena to the heights of his powers as the preeminent operatic tenor in the world.

The film showcased the amazing highlights from his illustrious career, including Pavarotti’s time with the Three Tenors and his amazing cross over into popular music, eventually making him one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time.

Pavarotti famously loved to eat, and at his peak he weighed 25 stone. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during his international farewell tour in 2006, and died the following year at his home in Modesta, Italy.

Alice, who lived with the couple during lockdown, during which she got to know her new step-father Alberto, is said to be very happy for her mother (pictured with her parents on their wedding day as a baby)

Alice, who lived with the couple during lockdown, during which she got to know her new step-father Alberto, is said to be very happy for her mother (pictured with her parents on their wedding day as a baby)

Alice, who lived with the couple during lockdown, during which she got to know her new step-father Alberto, is said to be very happy for her mother (pictured with her parents on their wedding day as a baby)

WHAT IS PANCREATIC CANCER?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of the disease, and around 95 per cent of people who contract it die from it.  

Joan Crawford, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti all died of pancreatic cancer.

It is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK – around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK, alongside about 55,000 in the US.

WHAT IS THE CAUSE?

It is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas – a large gland in the digestive system.

WHO HAS THE HIGHEST RISK?

Most cases (90 per cent) are in people over the age of 55.

Around half of all new cases occur in people aged 75 or older.

One in 10 cases are attributed to genetics.

Other possible causes include age, smoking and other health conditions, including diabetes.

WHY IS IT SO LETHAL?

There is no screening method for pancreatic cancer. 

Pancreatic cancer typically does not show symptoms in the early stages, when it would be more manageable. 

Sufferers tend to start developing the tell-tale signs – jaundice and abdominal pain – around stage 3 or 4, when it has likely already spread to other organs.    

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS? 

The only effective treatment is removal of the pancreas. 

This proves largely ineffective for those whose cancer has spread to other organs. 

In those cases, palliative care is advised to ease their pain at the end of their life.  

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Father of five girls slit open his 7-month pregnant wife’s stomach in India to check if it was a boy

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A father of five daughters allegedly slit open his pregnant wife’s stomach to find out if she was bearing a son this time. 

The husband – who has been named Pannalal – carried out the attack in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, on September 19.

He attacked his wife with a sharp-edged weapon and has been taken into custody according to Pravin Singh Chauhan, a senior police official. 

A father of five daughters, named only as Pannalal, allegedly slit open his pregnant wife's stomach to find out if she was bearing a son this time

A father of five daughters, named only as Pannalal, allegedly slit open his pregnant wife's stomach to find out if she was bearing a son this time

A father of five daughters, named only as Pannalal, allegedly slit open his pregnant wife’s stomach to find out if she was bearing a son this time

His wife, believed to be around 35, was seven-months pregnant according to police.

She is in a serious condition in a Bareilly hospital. 

The family of the victim alleged that Pannalal wanted a son as he already had five daughters.

They suspect he committed the crime to know if the baby was male or female according to The Hindustan Times

In India, the preference of sons still remains strong, with boys adding to the family wealth, while daughters drain it with dowries. 

According to Newsweek ‘sex selective abortions are widespread in India’ where families would prefer to have sons. 

The husband carried out the attack in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India (pictured) on September 19 and has been taken into custody

The husband carried out the attack in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India (pictured) on September 19 and has been taken into custody

The husband carried out the attack in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India (pictured) on September 19 and has been taken into custody

They said according to a 2007 report by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) son preference in the county is a ‘well-documented phenomenon’.

This has implications for skewed sex ratios, female feticide and higher mortality rates for girls. 

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Twitter investigates its ‘racist’ photo preview algorithm

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Twitter is looking into allegations that its algorithm which chooses a preview image for a large photo is racially biased. 

Tests of the algorithm done by users on the social media site over the weekend led to several examples of a preference for white faces from the automated system. 

Hundreds of thousands of retweets grabbed the attention of Twitter’s bosses and the feature is now under review, they say.  

One individual posted two stretched out images, with headshots of Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama in both, in the same tweet. In the first , Mr McConnell, a white man, was at the top of the photo, and in the second image, Barack Obama, a black man, was at the top. Pictured is the preview that Twitter's algorithm chose

One individual posted two stretched out images, with headshots of Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama in both, in the same tweet. In the first , Mr McConnell, a white man, was at the top of the photo, and in the second image, Barack Obama, a black man, was at the top. Pictured is the preview that Twitter's algorithm chose

One individual posted two stretched out images, with headshots of Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama in both, in the same tweet. In the first , Mr McConnell, a white man, was at the top of the photo, and in the second image, Barack Obama, a black man, was at the top. Pictured is the preview that Twitter’s algorithm chose 

Pictured, the first images used in the tweet. It features Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama. The preview image was of the white man

Pictured, the first images used in the tweet. It features Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama. The preview image was of the white man

Pictured, the second image used in the tweet. It features Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama. Pictured, the first images used in the tweet. The preview image was of the white man

Pictured, the second image used in the tweet. It features Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama. Pictured, the first images used in the tweet. The preview image was of the white man

Pictured, the two photos used in the above tweet. For both photos the preview image was Mr McConnell. This simple demonstration amassed more than 185,000 likes and more than 50,000 retweets

The feature uses a neural network, a complex system which makes its own decisions using machine leaning, which Twitter announced in 2018.   

A Twitter spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. 

‘But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. 

‘We’ll continue to share what we learn, what actions we take, and will open source our analysis so others can review and replicate.’

Parag Agrawal, Chief Development Officer at Twitter, also said online that the feature was tested for any signs of bias before it went live and called the racial bias allegations an ‘important question’. 

The conversation online about the racial bias sparked outrage and led to various different tests as people tried to determine what may be causing the flaw. 

It was all sparked when a white man tweeted that his colleague, a black man, was having issues with Zoom’s virtual backgrounds. 

He tweeted a snip of the issue, where his colleague’s face was not picked up by Zoom’s facial detection algorithm, on Twitter and noticed that the preview defaulted to him, not his colleague. 

Building on the back of this troubling finding, other Twitter users conducted their own investigations.

One individual posted two stretched out images, both with headshots of Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama, in the same tweet. 

In the first image, Mr McConnell, a white man, was at the top of the photo, and in the second image, Barack Obama, a black man, was at the top of the photo.

However, for both photos the preview image was Mr McConnell. This simple demonstration amassed more than 185,000 likes and more than 50,000 retweets.   

Other users then delved into more comprehensive tests to tackle variables and further solidify the case against the algorithm.  

One user even used cartoon characters in the form of Carl and Lenny from The Simpsons.

In this case the algorithm selected Lenny, who is yellow, instead of Carl, who is black. 

Twitter users created a range of tests to see if the Twitter algorithm was bias. One user even used cartoon characters in the form of Carl and Lenny from The Simpson's (pictured)

Twitter users created a range of tests to see if the Twitter algorithm was bias. One user even used cartoon characters in the form of Carl and Lenny from The Simpson's (pictured)

Twitter users created a range of tests to see if the Twitter algorithm was bias. One user even used cartoon characters in the form of Carl and Lenny from The Simpson’s (pictured)

AI expert warns against ‘racist and misogynist algorithms’ 

A leading expert in artificial intelligence has issued a stark warning against the use of race- and gender-biased algorithms for making critical decisions.

Across the globe, algorithms are beginning to oversee various processes from job applications and immigration requests to bail terms and welfare applications.

Military researchers are even exploring whether facial recognition technology could enable autonomous drones to identify their own targets.

However, University of Sheffield computer expert Noel Sharkey told the Guardian that such algorithms are ‘infected with biases’ and cannot be trusted.

Calling for a halt on all AI with the potential to change people’s lives, Professor Sharkey instead advocates for vigorous testing before they are used in public.

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As of Monday Morning, it appears Twitter has made some amendments to its algorithm, with previews showing the entire image, wherever possible. 

In the case first pointed out by Colin Madland, the man who uncovered the bias with his work friend via Zoom, the picture now shows the whole image, instead of defaulting to a close-up of Mr Madland himself. 

The Twitter demonstrations are undoubtedly helpful in providing cases for Twitter to learn from, but a large-scale investigation with a big sample size and scientific analysis is needed to determine if, and to what extent, the algorithm is biased. 

Biased algorithms are an issue which plagues much of science. Previous experiments have found the way artificial intelligence systems collect data often makes them racist and sexist.

A similar issue in data collection could be the underlying cause for the recent problem reported online.   

Researchers from MIT previously looked at a range of AI systems, and found many of them exhibited a shocking bias.  

It stems from a lack of diversity in the datasets which are often used to train AI systems. 

‘But algorithms are only as good as the data they’re using, and our research shows that you can often make a bigger difference with better data,’ said Irene Chen, a PhD student who wrote a paper on the topic with MIT professor David Sontag and postdoctoral associate Fredrik D. Johansson.

Another issue which could be hindering the Twitter algorithm is its preference for high contrast levels, according to a 2018 blog post from Twitter. 

Again, although not intentionally racist, it may result in racially biased results. 

Robotics expert Noel Sharkey said last year issued a stark warning against the use of race- and gender-biased algorithms for making critical decisions.

Calling for a halt on all AI with the potential to change people’s lives, Professor Sharkey advocates for vigorous testing before powerful AI systems are deployed.              

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