Is Canada Turning into a Police State?

Back in 2006, the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, right-wing Conservative Stephen Harper warned that “You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it.” After nine grueling years, that’s already true in many ways. But now, Harper is going even further in his re-make of the country. Under new and pending legislation, Canada is moving rapidly towards the creation of a police state, with major curtailments of civil liberties. In recent weeks, the Harper Conservatives have introduced and/or passed several pieces of legislation that run roughshod over Canadians’ Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Constitutional rights, giving draconian powers to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

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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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