The War on Xma$

Fox News is right. There is a war on Xma$. And one of the dastardly fiends behind the hostilities is me.

I'm stuffed to the gills with incorrect holiday sentiments here, and I've only been to a mall a couple times. The first holly-covered trigger that set me off was the flacking for this shopping season began the week before Halloween. Red and green bumped orange and black. That's not right.

Not to mention the whole turkey thing getting shunted behind a deluge of commercials featuring a car with a giant red bow on it. No, that's not going to stir up the vanishing middle class at all. Repeatedly imagining other people buying each other Lexuses as gifts. And now, now, the retail industry is not happy with the degree of greed with which we've been consumed, so before the yule log has even been lit, much less embered down, they're already pushing After-Xma$ Sales.

Hey, settle down. We got a couple days to go here. OK, I've lost and Xma$ has won. I've come to the dark side and realize that if I don't do everything I can to make sure corporate America has a Merry Xma$, the terrorists will win. So, in the spirit of giving till it hurts, let me offer up to the least deserving of us my annual scathingly incisive yet perennially trenchant:

Will Durst's 2005 Xma$ Gift Wi$h Li$t

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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.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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