The Growth of Citizen Co-Ops Is a Positive Development As Corporations Fail Us in Every Way

During Andrew McLeod's 10-day visit to the Basque Country of northern Spain, he met a 34-year-old man named Aitor Garro, who makes aluminum car components. For the last 13 years, this man has worked at Fagor Ederlan, a division of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, which is the world's largest system of worker-owned businesses. Mondragon's 100 global businesses employ 120,000 people and produce sales exceeding $20 billion annually. Garro grew up knowing only this system, as both his parents also worked in co-ops. "It was interesting to watch his perception of co-ops," McLeod said. "He took them for granted. It was like water to a fish."

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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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