“It violates the code of ethics.” The use of the Playboy Bunny photo is prohibited

“It violates the code of ethics.” The use of the Playboy Bunny photo is prohibited
“It violates the code of ethics.” The use of the Playboy Bunny photo is prohibited

Shortly after it was published in the November 1972 issue of Playboythe image of the Swedish bunny Lena Forsen it has become one of the most reproduced images ever. Not in its original version – naked except for a hat, fishnet stockings and boots – but cropped with the model’s bare shoulder, her face and her hat, the photo was considered perfect by Alexander Sawchuk, a professor at the University of California, to perform initial tests of image compression algorithms. Thanks to the richness of details and the right mix of lights and shadows. Lena Forsén has therefore become a sort of point of reference for every researcher in the field of digital images, at least until today.

Looking for new images to test the processing algorithms, Sawchuk inserted Playboy into the scanner, archiving a square portion of 512×512 pixels. The professor, unknowingly, created one of the most used and cited photos in scientific papers of the last decades to demonstrate progress in image compression technology, to test new hardware and software and to explain image editing techniques. But, as we were saying, Lena Forsén’s days are solid: theInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)a large scientific community with over 400 thousand members, has warned its members that from April 1st it will no longer accept scientific papers that contain the image of the Playboy bunny.

Vice President Terry Benzel mentioned a motion passed by the group’s editorial board: “The IEEE Diversity Statement and supporting policies such as the IEEE Code of Ethics speak to the IEEE’s commitment to promoting inclusive and equitable culture that welcomes everyone. In keeping with this culture and respecting the wishes of the subject of the image, Lena Forsén, the IEEE will no longer accept submitted papers that include ‘Lena’s image’”, reports the Guardian. A decision similar to the one taken by the scientific journal Nature in 2018: “We believe that the history of Lena’s image is at odds with widespread efforts to promote women pursuing higher education in science and engineering and therefore we have decided to adopt this policy”.

Over the years, accusations of sexism have not ceased, let alone in an era dominated by political correctness.

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