America’s dangerously inefficient response to COVID-19 is what happens when plutocrats — not politicians — direct public policy

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The novel coronavirus is quickly exposing the deadly dysfunction of our national government, which we can all now see represents capital rather than people. The problem is not capitalism per se. As Joe Biden reminds us, the billionaires who fund the campaigns of our leaders “aren’t bad guys.” The problem is that we have allowed these plutocrats to purchase politicians and thereby direct public policy. And the interests and needs of the plutocrats are diametrically opposed to the interests of ordinary working people.

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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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