'Well-connected' GOP donor linked to Rick Santorum scored $65 million in government investment for one-person company

Photo via Screengrab.

It is going to take approximately half of forever to sort out the corruption of the Trump years—presuming we eventually get to that point. A new scandal of the sort that would in past years result in weeks of televised outrage seems to crop up every few days.

The Associated Press brings us yet another. A "well-connected" Republican donor managed to score up to $65 million in government investment for a new method of processing blood plasma, including plasma to be used for treating patients in the COVID-19 pandemic. That seems unsurprising on its face: Of course the government is interested in investing in technologies that could help fight the pandemic. But AP reporters dug a little deeper and, as with everything in this new era of Republican cronyism, things are not quite that clear-cut.

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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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