Party Before People: Republicans Keep Blocking Bills That Could Help Suffering Americans

There are plenty of signs of the U.S. Senate’s immense dysfunction. But perhaps none was as alarming as seeing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, standing as the only male Republican to side with every male Democratic senator in support of revised sexual harassment legislation on Capitol Hill. Cruz’s stance as the odd man out is hardly new: He has developed a reputation as the senator most loathed by his colleagues, on both sides of the aisle. It is indicative, however, of a larger and more troubling trend of Republican recalcitrance, even as the party in full control of the federal government.

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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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