The Peculiar Role Prayer Plays for the Christian Right in Its Crusade to Make Abortion Illegal

Every fall and spring, anti-abortion activists step up protests during a time they call 40 Days for Life and clinic staff call 40 Days of Harassment—or simply 40 Days of Annoyance. The event this fall runs September 28 through November 6. During 40 Days, protesters often gather in public prayer before lining up with placards mixing images of the Virgin Mary, bloody tissue and warnings of eternal damnation.

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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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