Mayor Pete goes mansplainer in an otherwise serious Democratic debate

Image via / PBS News.

For the last Democratic primary debate of the year, hosted by PBS at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, the tone was somber — and thankfully so. Gone were most attempts by candidates to land well-rehearsed jokes that always fall flat (though Sen. Amy Klobuchar did trot out a few groaners). What was present, in the most welcome way, was a real focus on giving the candidates — cut down to seven from the November debate's 10 — time and space to answer questions in full paragraphs that actually give voters a sense of what these folks vying to run against Donald Trump in November stand for, and how they think.

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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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