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MORE THAN A GLITCH

CONFRONTING RACE, GENDER, AND ABILITY BIAS IN TECH

An informed analysis of one of the insidious elements of technology.

A sharp rebuke of technochauvinism.

Broussard brings her perspective as a multiracial woman, data journalist, and computer scientist to an eye-opening critique of racism, sexism, and ableism in technology. She decries technochauvinism, which she defines as “a kind of bias that considers computational solutions to be superior to all other solutions.” Examining the use of AI programs in areas such as facial recognition, learning assessment, and medical diagnosis, Broussard argues persuasively that algorithmic systems “often act in racist ways because they are built using training data that reflects racist actions or policies.” Moreover, these systems have been developed by “able-bodied, white, cis-gender, American men” who test programs on a similar pool. Racial bias is blatant when facial recognition programs are instituted in policing, leading to harassment and false arrests. “Facial recognition is known to work better on people with light skin than dark skin,” she writes, “better on men than on women, and it routinely misgenders trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming people.” Broussard explains clearly how data sets limit the efficacy of AI in predictive policing—“a strategy that uses statistics to predict future crimes”—as well as in medical diagnostics: “The skin cancer AIs are likely to work only on light skin because that’s what is in the training data.” The author draws on her own experience with breast cancer to point out the inadequacy of an AI assessment that missed her disease. Fortunately, her experienced doctor did not even consult the AI results. Broussard highlights the work of the Algorithmic Justice League, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, and other groups involved in algorithmic auditing. “If we are building AI systems that intervene in people’s lives,” she warns, “we need to maintain and inspect and replace the systems the same way we maintain and inspect and replace bridges and roads.”

An informed analysis of one of the insidious elements of technology.

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780262047654

Page Count: 240

Publisher: MIT Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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