Congress Pushes Green M&Ms As Cure for Cancer

My brother called me yesterday. He’s not in politics – he’s a doctor at a public hospital in Denver. He told me he happened to be watching television, and heard about the Democrats 100 Hours agenda – and specifically, about the ethics “reforms” they are proposing. I put “reforms” in quotes because, from his tone, I could tell he was making the quoting motion with his hands when he said the word. He was appalled that Democrats were actually bragging about banning things that most people can’t believe are actually legal in the first place.

“What are we going to hear next?,” he asked. “Are they going to have a press conference bragging about a new bill that bans politicians from murdering each other?”

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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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