Tonic to scale the individual

There's really something wonderful about the Harper's Weekly Review.

By pulling the major and dazzling facts together from a week of history and presenting them as string of rather objective sentences, the format gives the reader (or at least me) both powerful access to the Mind of Civilization -- a kind of Sauron's Eye-witness account of it all -- and a proper scaling of the individual's tiny part in the Process. You can watch it all happen, but no more than that. This shouldn't be depressing in the least; it's an affirmation that your part is all you can possibly do, and that you must rely on and trust in others to do theirs.

I highly suggest it to anyone who occasionally has feelings of grandeur, or succumbs to the idea that the world would go much smoother if they just had more control.

Here's a snip from this week's:

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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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