Ch 10: Race & Technology Miscellaneous

Can You See Me?

Joy Buolamwini’s TED Talk “How I am fighting algorithms with bias” discusses the biases and discriminatory encounters that individuals of color face when using technology. It is disheartening that we are in 2021, and we have yet to find recognition software that can detect diverse faces. Buloamwini provided her experiences with completing assignments during her undergraduate year but not being able to as her robot could not see her. She had to borrow her roommate’s face. With the current pandemic and having the majority of classes and meetings being held virtually, I cannot imagine the frustration individuals experience connection issues on top of algorithmic bias. I have never had difficulties completing any assignments in reference to my skin color, but I understand what the author is touching on. As an African American, there have been numerous instances where I am focused on getting “good lighting” before class.

When Buloamwini stated that she handed in her assignment and “figured, you know what, somebody else will solve this problem,” I had to disagree with this statement. Will someone else solve this problem? A problem that is not new and has been a concern for years? Without a diverse company, business, classroom, etc., how will others learn about one another and improve upon what is being swept under the rug? I use the idiom “swept under the rug” because society is diverse, which isn’t something new. Individuals are aware of the algorithmic bias whether they choose to ignore the fact or not. It is evident that we need more people of color in these fields to ensure individuals are not left behind. If society continues to focus on the “norm,” there will not be any diversity. Specific races will be essentially placed in the dark. As mentioned, it is 2021, and we must do better.

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