Inside the Right-Wing's Creepy Demonization of Helpless Children

The anti-immigrant protests in Murrieta, California last week brought the issue of Central American children flooding to the border to national attention. The influx of kids applying for asylum under a law signed by George W. Bush is becoming a humanitarian crisis, with services being stretched to the limit and calls for the children to be immediately deported back to their troubled homelands. It's now the focus of intense political debate as the Republicans try to blame Obama and demand he use his executive powers to close the border. On Wednesday he threw the gauntlet back and requested that the House pass his emergency supplemental request to ease the social services on the border and pass the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. As of today, the stand-off continues.

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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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