Saving the world, one loo at a time

Every time you flush that toilet, somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 gallons of water goes down the tubes. Can you imagine standing in your loo pouring out two gallon-sized jugs of water? It would be ridiculous. But most people will waste those precious gallons in the name of our obsession with cleanliness, sanitation, and all things antibacterial.

Thankfully, London's mayor is trying to change this nutty behavior. As part of a campaign to stop wasting water, Ken Livingstone urged the city's residents to hold off on flushing if they have had only "a pee."

I can just imagine the horrifed squeals were Americans to take up this cause. But why? In light of the ever-growing concern about global warming, perhaps we should re-examine our fetish with flushing. Not only is urine sterile, but many beauty products contain urea. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, it is a toilet, after all. It's not like you're going to wash your hands in it.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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