The Bias Embedded in Algorithms

​Algorithms and the data that drive them are designed and created by people, which means those systems can carry biases based on who builds them and how they’re ultimately deployed. Safiya Umoja Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, offers a curated reading list exploring how technology can replicate and reinforce racist and sexist beliefs, how that bias can affect everything from health outcomes to financial credit to criminal justice, and why data discrimination is a major 21st century challenge.

Google Has a Striking History of Bias Against Black Girls

Safiya Umoja Noble • Time

My first encounter with racism in search was in 2009 when I was talking to a friend who causally mentioned one day, “You should see what happens when you Google ‘black girls.’” I did and was stunned. (An excerpt from Algorithms of Oppression.)

Machine Bias

by Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu and Lauren Kirchner • ProPublica

There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks.


Black Future Month

Sasheer Zamata • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Is the future more Black Panther or Black Mirror? Guest correspondent Sasheer Zamata investigates Afrofuturism and the journey to make Snapchat filters actually work.

Technologies of Control and Our Right of Refusal

Dr. Seeta Peña Gangadharan • TEDxLondon

Most of us don’t realize how much digital systems govern access to our basic public services, like education, health and housing. Even more terrifying is how much data is collected about us and used without our knowledge.

Examining Black Feminism in the Digital Era

Kishonna L. Gray • The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

It is important to examine the digital manifestations of misogynoir – or what it means to be a Woman of Color existing in the hegemonic spaces of digital technology. But our conceptual frameworks fail to capture the everyday practices that Women of Color exhibit online.

About the curator

Safiya Umoja Noble is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Information Studies, where she serves as the Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press).

Get fascinating articles like these directly in your inbox.

Join millions and sign up for Pocket’s daily newsletter.