The Pro-Democracy Wildfire in America's States

The ruling class in Washington and New York are likely clinking glasses this weekend in a grand celebration. This week, with the announcement that both parties' major candidates are vacuuming up corporate cash like never before, they treated America to the beginning of the first billion-dollar presidential campaign, and the final gruesome execution of that thing known as "democracy." The suites of K Street and Wall Street and the mansions of Georgetown and Northern Virginia are the gallows, with bundled, six-figure campaign contributions serving as the noose. Candidates of both parties step right up, slip their heads through the loop and happily grin as the floor drops out from underneath them, snapping whatever spine they had - all while the crowd of big donors and political reporters cheers like beserk baseball fans in Yankee Stadium's right-field bleachers. The deranged mobs at Paris's blood-soaked guillotine during the French Revolution have nothing on America's anti-democratic political elites today.

But out in the heartland - the place where too many Beltway-focused activists, donors, pundits and strategists too often ignore - something of a revolt is going on. Beyond the view of Washington newspaper bureaus, Capitol Hill offices and Dupont Circle wine and cheese fundraisers, states are waging their own multi-pronged pro-democracy fight - and with increasing success.

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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