Blog post 8: Technology and inequality

Write a 5 paragraph reflection on Ruha Benjamin’s lecture, “A New Jim Code?” Your reflection should try to connect the lecture to Sarah Brayne’s article, “Relying on Algorithms can Further Bias and Inequality” and Daniel Politi’s article, “Facebook Apologizes After its AI Mislabels Video of Black Men as ‘Primates’”. Your reflection should answer the following questions:

  • Benjamin says “Precisely by ignoring social reality, tech designers will surely reproduce it”. What does she mean by this?
  • What is the “New Jim Code”, and what are some examples that Benjamin gives to illustrate it?
  • According to Benjamin and Brayne, when it comes to addressing problems like racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality, how do technologies like algorithms and metadata pose unique challenges?
  • How does Benjamin’s lecture give us a way to critique the Facebook AI described in Daniel Politi’s article?
  • What is another example that you can think of (from the news, from your own life, from another class, etc.) of technology shaping and/or being shaped by societal biases and inequality? How does Benjamin’s argument speak to that example?
  • Benjamin and the two articles show why the creators of any digital project should be mindful of the risks of perpetuating discrimination. Think about your project for this class. Where are there potential opportunities to encode inequality? (This does not have to be about racism or sexism–just take a few sentences to consider potential implicit bias in your project.)

To earn full credit on this assignment, your reflection must answer all of the above questions in enough detail to demonstrate a close, careful consideration of the lecture and the reading. The writing does not need to be formal or polished, but it should be clear.