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Updated by Robert Karp on Nov 25, 2020
Headline for Awaken: Science and Technology Through the Lens of Bias
Robert Karp Robert Karp
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Awaken: Science and Technology Through the Lens of Bias

The content of this list will include contemporary articles, videos and blog posts in the fields of science and technology, that emphasize the challenges confronting minorities in these fields. How we see science and technology, and how it is shared, is at often times, done so through the eyes of one demographic and designed for the audience of the same demographic. This demographic tends to be white males. This list will attempt compile content through the voices of minorities who work in the field, and present a viewpoint that we may not come across otherwise. The indented audience for this blog are white males in the STEM fields but the articles are for anyone interested in equity, inclusion and bringing more awareness to our biases as they relate to science and technology.

Birding While Black

#BlackBirdersWeek seeks to interrupt stereotypes about who belongs in nature and science.


Artificial intelligence can amplify racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. We deserve more accountable and equitable AI.

How I'm fighting bias in algorithms | Joy Buolamwini

MIT grad student Joy Buolamwini was working with facial analysis software when she noticed a problem: the software didn't detect her face -- because the peop...

Community Testing Suggests Bias In Twitter’s Cropping Algorithm | Hackaday

With social media and online services are now huge parts of daily life to the point that our entire world is being shaped by algorithms. Arcane in their workings, they are responsible for the content we see and the adverts we’re shown. Just as importantly, they decide what is hidden from view as well.

Exposing the Bias Embedded in Tech - The New York Times

It’s important to have diverse teams; when it’s just white men doing the programming, artificial intelligence systems are based on how they act.

Twitter apologises for 'racist' image-cropping algorithm | Technology | The Guardian

Users highlight examples of feature automatically focusing on white faces over black ones

Technology’s Built-In Machine Bias Reflects Racism, Scholar Says | American Association for the Advancement of Science

Technology is not unbiased, according to a scholar investigating the phenomenon of technological racism. As people recognize the embedded biases within technology, the growing and multifaceted tech justice movement is working to counter these biases, added the scholar.


Equity vs Equality vs Justice

Equity vs Equality vs Justice
AI has exacerbated racial bias in housing. Could it help eliminate it instead? | MIT Technology Review

Our upcoming magazine issue is devoted to long-term problems. Few problems are longer-term or more intractable than America’s systemic racial inequality. And a particularly entrenched form of it is housing discrimination.  A long history of policies by banks, insurance companies, and real estate brokers has denied people of color a fair shot at homeownership, concentrated…

Of course technology perpetuates racism. It was designed that way. | MIT Technology Review

Black Americans have seen technology used to target them again and again. Stopping it means looking at the problem differently.

Racism is no glitch, Benjamin tells science writers | Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. Directed and advised by distinguished journalists and scientists, CASW develops and funds programs that encourage accurate and informative writing about developments in science, technology, medicine and the environment.

Wrongful arrest exposes racial bias in facial recognition technology - CBS News

Detroit police defend the system, even though the police chief once said technology alone may misidentify people 96% of the time.


The Point of This Blog: Do Not Call Me a Racist!

Throughout my academic career, as far back as I can remember, I have always had a desire to understand how my own biases and experiences have affected how I view and treat those around me. Being born in South Africa at the heart of apartheid I am keenly aware of what racism looks like. The theme of understanding racism through the prism of white privilege has always been an interest of mine as an undergrad and now as a graduate student. While I feel I have a handle on my own innate racism, something I feel every white person has whether they will admit it or not, it was not until I began curating this blog that I realized I still have so much work to do. Although I feel like in the back of my mind I was aware of a racial bias in science and technology, I did not have an understanding of how that plays out and also how pervasive it truly is. Again this is due to the lens through which I see the world and it is no fault of my own. This is the problem I think many white males have. They see the words “white privilege”, “white supremacy” and “racism” and they immediately get defensive as if these words couldn’t possibly define them. “I have black friends” or “I am not racist” are sentences I’ve heard in response to the question, do you think you have a racial bias? This is at the heart of the issue and is why it is so difficult to have these conversations. This blog is to open eyes that are closed to due ignorance and those include my own. Even searching for something as non-contentious as racial bias in technology can be difficult for those who are unaware of the problem. Why would a white male go looking for such information? This is the goal of this blog. It is curated for lazy white males, no offense intended, who would rather read this information as opposed to go out and find it. As one can see from the diversity of articles and issues presented, from bird watchers to algorithms, not only is this topic widely varied but incredibly relevant and it should be at the forefront of conversations had between engineers, programmers and project designs who tend to be overwhelmingly white men. What I am hoping by presenting these stories and voices, is that the words racism and white privilege do not have negative connotations but rather can be a starting point for important conversations that affect everyone in our society not just a few. As much as it is has brought the world together, this new digital age has also marginalized many, and until we create technology and science that treats everyone equally and affords everyone the same opportunities, I feel an argument could be made that it should not be available for any user until all are affected in the same way.