'Citizen Koch': The Movie About Our Sick Democracy PBS Tried to Kill

“Citizen Koch” is kind of a mess. But it’s a mess well worth discovering for yourself — and consider the history of its production and the situation it tries to capture. Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, co-directors of the Oscar-nominated Hurricane Katrina film “Trouble the Water,” premiered an early cut of the film at Sundance in January 2013. Largely filmed in 2011 and 2012 during the Wisconsin showdown between organized labor and Gov. Scott Walker, a Tea Party darling and Republican golden boy, which ended with the failed effort to recall Walker, “Citizen Koch” conveys the feeling of trying to glean meaning from yesterday’s headlines, with mixed success. Since then, Walker’s star has been considerably tarnished, as has that of his East Coast cognate, Chris Christie, while the Koch brothers failed in their quest to elect a Republican president and the Tea Party wave has ebbed (or been absorbed into the Republican mainstream, if you prefer).

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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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