The AP and CNN Get 'The Huxtable Effect' All Wrong


Sigh. The good thing about having a blog is that you have a blog. The bad thing about having a blog is that news reporters can take your theories and mangle them all to hell and publish it all over the world.

Today, the Associated Press had a piece crediting me with something I never did. They claim I have a theory that The Cosby Show is why Obama was elected.

What I actually posited was much more complex than that. I said that the social norms of a population are generally formed through its popular culture.

I also said that many social scientists agree that political movements of sweeping scope must be rooted in prior cultural movements, in order to prime the public for the change. Most notably this theory was put forth by Harold Cruse in his book The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual.
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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:
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