Battling the Death Star: Seattle Kayaktivists Slow Arctic-Bound Shell Oil Rig as Fight Goes On

The oil giant Shell is on its way to the Arctic, but not before a final showdown with environmental activists in kayaks. On Tuesday, dozens of "kayaktivists" were arrested after paddling up to a Shell drilling rig and preventing it from leaving the Port of Seattle. Several dozen supporters lined up behind them. The activists set off at 4 a.m. after learning of Shell’s plans to leave later that morning.

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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:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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