Part of the Microsoft Lecture Series on Race & TechnologyThe New Jim Code: Reimagining the default settings of technology & society
Dr. Ruha Benjamin
Professor of African American studies at Princeton University, founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab
From everyday apps to complex algorithms, technology has the potential to hide, speed, and deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racist practices of a previous era. In this talk, Ruha Benjamin presents the concept of the “New Jim Code” to explore a range of discriminatory designs that encode inequity: by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies, by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions, or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite. This presentation takes us into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements, and provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with historical and sociological insight. Ruha will also consider how race itself is a tool designed to naturalize social hierarchies and, in doing so, she challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.
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