America is entering another great depression

National Archives at College Park / Public domain

The one extremely thin silver lining of the current crisis and the economic collapse that has followed is that it provides indisputable proof that workers, not CEOs, are the engine of the American economy. If we are on the verge of another Great Depression, as seems likely, that didn't happen because the occupants of the C-suite are working from home, but because millions of ordinary working people can't show up for work in public-facing jobs that keep this country running.The Senate reacted to this by passing a $2 trillion stimulus that expands unemployment benefits, will send a check to most American households, and — since Republicans are running the show — $500 billion in industry bailout money. This bill may mute some of the worst economic effects of this crisis, but there's a real threat that this will just be a repeat of the 2007-8 economic crash and stimulus, in which corporations and the wealthiest Americans recovered nicely but the rest of the nation never really regained its economic footing.

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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:
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