Meet the Woman Who Made Creationists Apoplectic, Inspiring Neil deGrasse Tyson's 'Cosmos'

As the host of the recently concluded series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”now available on home video, if you missed it—Neil deGrasse Tyson became, along with America’s most prominent astrophysicist, the public face of science in its effort to recapture the public imagination. But although Tyson is an important author in his own right, he didn’t conceive, write or produce “Cosmos.” He essentially served the role of an actor or a news anchor, a charismatic and credible figure reading someone else’s words off a Teleprompter. Those words, and damn near everything else about the show, were the work of Ann Druyan, the writer and executive producer who also co-created the original “Cosmos” series with her late husband, Carl Sagan,more than 30 years ago.

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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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