White Suburban Soccer Moms Love NSA Surveillance

A frequent response of those untroubled by the revelations of the National Security Agency program is: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” Perhaps we need to translate that phrase, along with the relative colorblindness through which the entire series of revelations has been scrutinized, as: “If your last name isn’t Khan, and you have no family in Pakistan/India/Iran, etc., you have nothing to fear.”

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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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