Will KBR Be Held Accountable for U.S. Soldier's Electrocution in Iraq?

What's it going to take for the Pentagon to revoke KBR's multi-million dollar contract in Iraq? Will it be the company's failure to ensure clean drinking water for US soldiers? Nope. How about the fact that they gave ice containing traces of putrefied remains to US soldiers? Still no. Not even the rape of former KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones led our government to suspend KBR's contract. Indeed, accountability for the largest US military contractor in Iraq always seems just outside of our grasp.

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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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