White Fear Elected Trump: Political Scientist Diana Mutz Explains the 'Status Threat' Hypothesis

Bad ideas have a life all their own. Speaking last Saturday at a rally in Washington Township, Michigan, Donald Trump was in rare form. He worked his audience into a fever pitch with threats to shut down the government and punish the Democrats and his other enemies. He spread more irrational fear about a "caravan" of "illegal immigrants" who will somehow "invade" America. He grossly exaggerated his policy successes, which is nothing new, and in ominous tones targeted "Hispanics" in one of his tirades, to which his almost uniformly white audience responded with a mix of boos and disdainful silence.

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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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