Here's what you need to know about Biden's push to waive the COVID vaccine patents

Vice President Kamala Harris looks on as Victoria Legerwood-Rivera, an Attendance Counselor at Stoddert Elementary School in Washington, D.C., receives a COVID-19 vaccine during an event with President Joe Biden, celebrating the 50 millionth COVID-19 vaccination Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

by Farasat Bokhari, University of East Anglia

The Biden administration has now agreed to back a proposal to suspend intellectual property protection for COVID vaccines. This is a break from US government's long-held position on strong intellectual property protection, which has also been supported by many research-intensive countries in western Europe as well and the pharmaceutical industry.

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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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