This message from ​Chuck Schumer is a big deal — but almost everyone is missing why

Sen. Chuck Schumer United States Senate, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Editorial Board, as I hope you have noticed, is not in the business of making arguments for the sake of argumentation. It does not invest time in fights over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. (The Editorial Board, for this reason, will never see The Big Money. It's too shrewd.) It works hard to read politics critically and come to concrete conclusions for the sake of normal people and the common good.

There's a reason I say this. Sometimes the Editorial Board is ahead of the conventional wisdom in Washington such that when the conventional wisdom in Washington eventually catches up, there's a feeling of whiplash. Before this past week, I'd been arguing for a year or so that the nightmare will not be over after Donald Trump's presidency comes to an end. (There are reasons aplenty, but primarily no matter the crime, obscenity or moral outrage, about 40 percent of the electorate approved of Trump during his term.) Then this week, the conventional wisdom in Washington appeared to awaken to oh my God the nightmare isn't over how could this happen! I scrambled for a day to find out what I missed. Turns out I didn't miss anything.

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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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