Hate Crimes Legislation Headed to President Obama's Desk

Some very good news today -- hate crimes protections for the LGBT community is on its way to the President's desk. The Senate voted for cloture on the defense authorization conference report and then passed the full report with the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act attached. The cloture vote was 64-35 with Hatch absent, and our side picked up Collins, Snowe, Murkowski, Voinovich and Lugar. Feingold voted no for reasons related to Afghanistan.

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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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