Favoriting Techtonic with Mark Hurst: Playlist from January 21, 2019 Favoriting

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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Mon. Apr 15th, 6pm - 7pm: Richard Polt, author, "The Typewriter Revolution" (More info...)

Favoriting January 21, 2019: Prof. Safiya Noble, author, "Algorithms of Oppression"

Listen to this show: Pop-up listen Pop-up player!



This week: Prof. Safiya Noble, author, "Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism"

Safiya Noble online:

• Buy her book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (via your local non-monopoly bookstore!)

• Author site: safiyaunoble.com

• Book site: algorithmsofoppression.com

• Twitter: @safiyanoble

Topical articles:

‘Colorblind’ Artificial Intelligence Just Reproduces Racism (Jan 16, HuffPo): "Discrimination doesn’t have to be deliberate or even conscious in order to be harmful. . . . If we simply add AI technology on top of unjust social systems, without considering how they automate and speed up those very same systems, we only make injustice run more smoothly."

The Seductive Diversion of ‘Solving’ Bias in Artificial Intelligence (Julia Powles, Dec 2018): "Addressing bias as a computational problem obscures its root causes. Bias is a social problem, and seeking to solve it within the logic of automation is always going to be inadequate. . . . [furthermore] the seductive controversy of A.I. bias, and the false allure of 'solving' it, detracts from bigger, more pressing questions."

Google's Algorithm Isn't Biased, It's Just Not Human (WIRED, Dec 14, 2018): "Engagement is central to Google’s bottom line, and the company certainly isn’t the first to discover that screaming and vitriol keep an audience’s attention. . . . Everything was fine until Google felt compelled to grow and apply its magic formula to politics and news. In those areas, its algorithm worked in reverse. Instead of finding order beneath the chaos, it sowed chaos where there had been a modicum of order."

Precedent (i.e., why all of us should pay attention):

Lessons from history on the dangers of blind trust in data (FT, Dec 2018, behind a paywall): "Our obsession with measuring everything, from school grades, to personal looks, to behavioural habits, to popularity is creating a new social order of worth, a 'conform and perform' culture, a world of 'credible fictions'. Statistics are not just reflective of the existing world but are constructing an alternative new reality. Data are not just being used to inform society but to form it."

Citizenship v. The Surveillance State (Boston Review, Dec 2018): "This is not some distant dystopia: predictive analytics are already being used by police departments in major urban centers, notably in Chicago. This data, unsurprisingly, tends to target poor and black neighborhoods, with young black men having reported cases where police knocked on their doors to warn them off doing things the police believed they were about to do — in effect persecuting them for precrimes, to borrow Philip K. Dick’s term."

Our dystopian cyberpunk here and now (Jan 13, TechCrunch): "'Installing cameras in some people’s homes.' 'Officers recorded their voices, took pictures of their heads at different angles and collected hair and blood samples.' Targeting 'people who have received a phone call from overseas.' Why the crackdown [in Xinjiang, China]? . . . Partly because they can: because this dystopian surveillance police-state technology is now cheap enough and reliable enough to roll out at massive scale."

Your Face Tomorrow (Art in America, Jan 1), on Chinese surveillance: "In the last few years, businesses, schools, and private individuals [in China] have begun streaming their closed-circuit camera footage onto websites for anyone to see. While it’s not unusual to store video footage on internet servers, China appears to lead the way when it comes to the amount of footage that is publicly accessible, perhaps because of the country’s looser norms around individual privacy and copyright."

......(for a happier post from China, here's a school principal's dance routine.)

Twins get some 'mystifying' results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test (CBC, Jan 18): "Marketplace host Charlsie Agro and her twin sister, Carly, bought home kits from AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA, and mailed samples of their DNA to each company for analysis. Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins did not receive matching results from any of the companies. . . . Paul Maier, chief geneticist at FamilyTreeDNA, admits it's 'kind of a science and an art.'"

...responding to the above, Cornell professor Ifeoma Ajunwa writes, "While this might be hilarious, it’s also dangerous. People blindly rely on genetic tests as accurate predictors of health and propensity for disease. Implications for employment and insurance."

Finally, in recent tech news...

Facebook's '10 Year Challenge' Is Just A Harmless Meme—Right? (WIRED, Jan 15): "It's tough to overstate the fullness of how technology stands to impact humanity. The opportunity exists for us to make it better, but to do that we also must recognize some of the ways in which it can get worse. Once we understand the issues, it’s up to all of us to weigh in."


by David Golumbia, Jan 16


- - -

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

Artist Track Album Images Approx. start time
  Professor Safiya Noble joins Mark to talk about her book "Algorithms of Oppression," which explains how search engines like Google reinforce and amplify the racism in American society.
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Favoriting Machinarium Soundtrack 
Favoriting
 
  Mark's intro    
Favoriting
 
  Interview with Safiya Noble    
Favoriting
0:13:05 (Pop-up)
  Your comments    
Favoriting
0:39:55 (Pop-up)
The O'Jays  Love Train   Favoriting  
Favoriting
0:53:24 (Pop-up)


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Listener comments!

Avatar 6:00pm
Beast of Boonton:

Technoids unite!
  6:01pm
John from Florham Park:

Hey BB how are you this cold night in Morris County
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:02pm
ultradamno:

Hi Mark, Techtogo-gorhythmethodists!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
coelacanth∅:

boonton, where i used to go for many records; florham park, where i used to go for some photography supplies.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
Ken From Hyde Park:

Yay! Let us now form a Techtohedron!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
Bas NL:

Hey Mark & Techntonicalsos!
Avatar 6:03pm
BigCat:

I'm feeling technorific
er, tech-horrific
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
♪:ɛK:

@John, you might very well think they're too lazy or entitled to keep one, but I couldn't possibly comment, LOL.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm
coelacanth∅:

hi Mark and techtolettes
  6:04pm
John from Florham Park:

@coel cool glad Florham Park is good for that
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm
ɨkɛ:

Hi everybody!
Avatar 6:05pm
Linda Lee:

this is called synchronicity. hi Mark & techies!
Avatar 6:05pm
geezerette:

Howdy!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm
coelacanth∅:

vreeland ave, i forget the name of the place. b&h was better, but florham park was closer.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:05pm
Webhamster Henry:

Hi techchchchctonics.
  6:05pm
John from Florham Park:

@ek was just wondering why joes did not but oh well
  6:06pm
kevlicki:

Good evening everyone
Avatar 6:06pm
annie:

whew!!! i made it!
  6:07pm
SerpentStrike:

Good evening, just checking in.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:08pm
dale:

hello dere.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:08pm
Ken From Hyde Park:

Listener herb.nyc is a graffiti artist?
Avatar 6:09pm
Linda Lee:

one doesn't expect a tool of societal inequality to fix societal inequality
Avatar 6:09pm
geezerette:

People make technology. That's the problem.
Avatar 6:10pm
BigCat:

Humanoids will consume you humans
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm
Ike:

This article about Elwood, IL, really tells you a lot about our shitty late-stage-capitalist tech nightmare even though it's not directly related to tech: newrepublic.com...
Avatar 6:11pm
Linda Lee:

Epz, define 'honestly' ~
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm
dale:

l.l. beat me to it.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:12pm
chris:

took the words out of my keyboard, Linda Lee.

hi, Mark and peeps
Avatar 6:13pm
BigCat:

MLK Day reminds all that #AI and #tech will NOT solve the big issues of the day.
*We* will/can/do.
Avatar 6:13pm
Linda Lee:

at this point 'liberals' aren't really concerned with wealth distribution anyway ~ if by 'liberals' you mean neoliberals.
  6:14pm
John from Florham Park:

Thanks Linda for calling this guy out
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:14pm
chris:

'liberal' is a conservative construct. all the cool kids are 'progressives' now.
Avatar 6:14pm
Beast of Boonton:

@John from Florham Park: Toasty - Heating with old school wood
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm
Ike:

@Epz, if you listen to this program regularly, I'd be surprised if you don't hear the show as clearly and inherently against tech libertarianism! No?!? See that article I posted above: is all that big-biz behavior "honest"? It's LEGAL but it's not honest: it's all just a shameless race to the bottom.
Avatar 6:15pm
Linda Lee:

in this context we need a definition.
  6:15pm
SerpentStrike:

Funny, I think that google does twirl its mustache and plot how evil they can be.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm
Greg from ZONE 5:

Evening, Mark & all!
Avatar 6:16pm
BigCat:

Does evil = profit?

yup.
Avatar 6:16pm
Linda Lee:

i'll prepare dinner while you come up with one.
Avatar 6:16pm
geezerette:

Tweets. 'nuff said.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:17pm
Ike:

Bad, privacy-violating tech behavior is all about bad libertarianism. No? This show is inherently political even if it doesn't always present as such 100% directly... isn't it?
  6:17pm
John from Florham Park:

@BB good for being nice and toasty
Avatar 6:18pm
Davee:

I'm feeling oppressed
  6:19pm
seedfriend:

So glad you do this show. Very important topic.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:19pm
chris:

Epz, counter question. is it 'honest' to pay your people so little that the taxpayer has to pick up the tab to help provide a living wage, at the same time being one of the most wealthy people on earth? please direct your answer to jeff@amazon.com
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:22pm
Ken From Hyde Park:

Yay! Let us now form a trollohedron!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:22pm
ultradamno:

Oh, man (re: Yelp)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:23pm
dale:

epz - honestly and legally does not mean morally.
  6:26pm
kevlicki:

How the hell does anyone get rich by being honest?!!
Right, the wealthiest people in the world amass their wealth because there so benevolent and giving.
Bullshit, they’re the most competitive, calculated manipulators of resources and labor. They def “work hard” at it, and defend their wealth at all costs
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm
dale:

george owell defined advertising as the stirring of a stick in a swill pot.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm
coelacanth∅:

dale - *ding*
Avatar 6:26pm
BigCat:

it's not politics
it's not politics
it's not politics
it's inequality, plain and simple
(hey, wait, something about today made this seem relevant.......?)
Avatar 6:26pm
annie:

well, i for one LOVE that i can choose DuckDuckGo as an alternative search engine
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm
Mark Hurst:

Hi all, thanks for logging in this evening. @Epz, there are other past episodes that focus on wealth inequality - find them in the archives. Please don't engage in political trolling on this comment board.
Avatar 6:29pm
geezerette:

@Ike,absolutely.
Avatar 6:29pm
annie:

sadly, yahoo and youtube are partnered with google... i use firefox as a browser..just cannot escape google
  6:29pm
John from Florham Park:

I am in this chat room a lot, first time I have seen a political food fight in here
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm
dale:

epz - maga to you too.
Avatar 6:29pm
herb.nyc:

Hearing this "black girls" example makes me say "fuck Google", and i am very selective in using the f-word.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm
Mark Hurst:

And to clarify: this show is not partisan and is not promoting (or against) any political party. I am against runaway influence of Big Tech at the expense of everyone else. Let's try to find common ground. Remember: Big Tech profits from polarization and division.
Avatar 6:31pm
geezerette:

Ken FHP, heh! :D
Avatar 6:32pm
BigCat:

good point sir Mark,
weak egos also (seem to) profit from polarization and division!! hehehe
Avatar 6:32pm
geezerette:

Ann Coulter. Not "beautiful", inside or out.
Avatar 6:33pm
pocket vito:

Type “American scientists” into Google. You get a list of faces and names. Einstein is there, but he’s listed number 7, after Neil degrasse Tyson, who himself comes after 5 other African Americans nobody’s heard of. So it works both ways. Google is garbage.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm
melinda:

Just now tuning in but agree we must resist polarization.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:34pm
Webhamster Henry:

Search results are clearly sifted with a view toward "engagement" , as well as trying to be accurate in its results (which in itself is difficult). But they are also based on the corpus of data which it is searching, and if there is a bias in the corpus, without some consciousness of that bias, it will be reflected in the search results. So test queries in several search engines, just to see how they come up with their answers.
  6:36pm
John from Florham Park:

Melinda too late for that, would rather talk about music and this tech shoe is very interesting
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:36pm
Gaylord Fields:

@picket vito: I'm nonplussed by what you mean by "both ways," as my only interpretation is one where your use of that phrase is a polarizing one.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:36pm
Gaylord Fields:

*as a polarizing one
Avatar 6:36pm
Beast of Boonton:

Remember: If it is on the internet, it is true.
  6:37pm
John from Florham Park:

And guys I for one am trying to stay away from politics in general
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm
chresti:

Hell o! Power back!
Avatar 6:37pm
BigCat:

did someone say
Polar Ice Nation?
oh. polarization.........blecch
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:39pm
Bas NL:

My computer just crashed.. i smell a conspiracy..
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:39pm
Gaylord Fields:

(Sorry, I had it correct the first time.) Anyway, your purported example shows the very same kind of search engine bias everyone else, including our host and guest, are referring to, not a different one.
Avatar 6:39pm
geezerette:

Rely on Google and your memory atrophies.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm
dale:

pocket vito/gaylord - i'd be interested to see if those search results change tomorrow when it's not a holiday honoring a great african american.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:42pm
Gaylord Fields:

@dale: Has anyone actually done this search? I just did, and found no results as reported.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm
Ike:

Who hasn't heard of George Washington Carver anyway? Everybody educated has, I hope. Like @Dale pointed out, it would be very cool if that was *regularly* the #1 result, but IDK....
Avatar 6:42pm
Beast of Boonton:

After this interview, the internet will be fixed tomorrow
Avatar 6:43pm
annie:

perhaps it's time to bring back the practice of teaching critical thinking... from kindergarten... check out "Propaganda Game" created by Lorne Greene
  6:43pm
thinking for myself:

Type "American scientists" into Google and you get that 9 out of the top 10 are black! I have never heard of any of them, and I'm a scientist. Other search engines show instead Edison, Bell, Fermi, etc. as you would expect. So Google is clearly biased in favor of black scientists. This is the exact opposite of what your guest is saying. Maybe she can comment on that.
  6:43pm
NIKHOLIS:

Lets face it, its thr anti-black capitalist system we live
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm
dale:

gaylord - i did and what he/she said would come up did.
  6:44pm
John from Florham Park:

Seeing stuff like this just makes me want to give up on tech and go live on an island
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
Ike:

@Gaylord, yes I just did the same search (on a laptop) and got a line of horizontal images at the top of African-American scientists as the first 7. However those were not the *text* results.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
Webhamster Henry:

@annie I played that as a kid .. and the fun part about it is "now that you learned these methods of persuasion, go through a magazine and look at at the ads!"
  6:44pm
NIKHOLIS:

Google and any other multi million dollar corporation are inherently anti black, anti poor
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
dale:

lorne greene? singer of RINGO?
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:44pm
Ken From Hyde Park:

No smorking in bed!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:46pm
Gaylord Fields:

@Ike: I got that, too, on a laptop, and like you, I was able to tell what it is and what it isn't.
Avatar 6:46pm
annie:

yep,dale,the very one!! and yes WHH,we did too!!! what fun!
Avatar 6:47pm
Dave Awkward:

@thinking for myself: "American Scientist" is in the context that you have to specify the phrase "African American Scientist" to get pictures of Black scientists. If you search for just "scientist" what do you get?
  6:48pm
queems:

kind of glad i skipped the comments on this show today. great show as always, mark
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:48pm
Webhamster Henry:

A good reason for "American scientists" to show a lot of African American scientists is because of the bonus scoring of the word "American". Google thinks you want to see African American scientists.Search for USA scientists ans see the difference. As mentioned, different engines will give different results.
Avatar 6:49pm
Fox:

I think the human ego is too fragile to fully accept how easily we can be manipulated, and that is why it is so hard for the insidious nature of the Big Data companies to be fought. We don't want to admit how vulnerable we are, and completely without armor.
  6:49pm
Alicia Renee:

Our societal acceptance of impatience (rather systemic expectancy of Faster! Answers!Now!) is worth noting. & noting again. When met with resistance, still, noting again.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:49pm
Gaylord Fields:

@Dave Awkward: That's what I theorized. A search for "tooth tigers" would serve up a lot of tigers with saber teeth.
Avatar 6:49pm
annie:

has anyone noticed that google searches do not allow for brackets to single out a phrase anymore? it's all a mosh
  6:49pm
John from Florham Park:

@queems I should have done the same thing dummy me
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm
coelacanth∅:

Henry, ALL "WHITE". every one.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm
Smokestack:

The issue here is that access points to knowledge online is getting monopolized, which can be very dangerous.
Avatar 6:50pm
BigCat:

tip:
new rule for educators
* * *
if your student is gonna study ANY KIND OF TECH, they must watch 2001: A Space [Oddity]
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm
Ike:

The line of images at the top in a search for "American musicians" today shows Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong first (and then James Brown and Hendrix) -- I bet that's not what the results normally are. The average person doesn't listen to jazz much anymore, unfortunately.
Avatar 6:51pm
annie:

so, who used googletoday? was there an image on the top right of mlk?if so,then. well... you've been had when you do any search today
Avatar 6:52pm
geezerette:

We are ALL data now. Hideous.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:52pm
Ken From Hyde Park:

"American idiot" search reveals many results for the Green Day album, FWIW.
  6:53pm
queems:

@john i don’t need a panic attack and a rage stroke simultaneously
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm
Ike:

@BigCat, surely there are shorter and smarter movies about evil AIs. In a way the movie is intensely anti-humanist because is HAL 20 times more interesting than any of the humans. (Yeah yeah I know, my Kubrick hate is prob. getting old.)
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:54pm
ultradamno:

@ken So does 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams'...it can take some doing to get to info on earlier versions
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm
Fuzzy:

Google Image search for "idiot" brings up the expected result.
Avatar 6:55pm
geezerette:

fuzzy, hahaha. :)
Avatar 6:56pm
Dave Awkward:

Please don't feed the trolls
  6:56pm
Alicia Renee:

I wonder how searches such as "beautiful" in Duckduckgo morph over time. Presently, a young girl, many colorful photographs of landscapes, a butterfly, and, yes, light skinned women.
Avatar 6:56pm
annie:

i did lookinto the DDGo browser... i wasn't impressed
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm
Ike:

@Dave Awkward@6:47, oh wow, good point, I hadn't even though of that. Duh.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:56pm
Webhamster Henry:

Bring your camera-covering duct tape to your next Air B&B visit!
Avatar 6:57pm
geezerette:

Thanks, Mark!
Buddies!
  6:57pm
John from Florham Park:

@wueems don’t blame you at all and very big HUG
Avatar 6:57pm
annie:

yay!!! DRushkoff!!
Avatar 6:57pm
Fox:

YAAAAY!!!! I love Douglas Rushkoff!
  6:57pm
thinking for myself:

Mark, why didn't you cancel the interview once you realized that Safiya continues with the racist campaign against the (white) Covington boys, even after the scam was exposed? Shame on you. I am discontinuing my support of the station.
  6:57pm
John from Florham Park:

I meant queems
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:57pm
Bas NL:

Thanks Mark and Safiya & friends here!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm
coelacanth∅:

Thanks Mark
  6:58pm
queems:

thanks mark!
  6:58pm
POC:

GREAT SHOW!!! Happy MLK day!!!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm
dale:

good show. can't make an omelette without yadda yadda yadda.
  6:59pm
Alicia Renee:

@annie been using DDG for years now. nope, it doesn't learn your preferences, but it's an honest search. plus, you can choose your sources if wish.
Avatar 6:59pm
Dave Awkward:

First time listener to this show; probably not my last. Kudos!
Avatar 7:00pm
annie:

beautifulon DDG showmostly nature
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 7:00pm
Webhamster Henry:

Thanks Mark . There are lots of other implicit biases in internet services. Like, there are no tabby cat emojis.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 7:00pm
Ken From Hyde Park:

Confound it! I'm picturing a beer commercial now. Stupid advertising campaigns!
Thanks, Mark. Good show tonight.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:01pm
Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone. Hoping we can continue (and improve) at having this conversation. Polarization only helps Big Tech.
Avatar 7:06pm
Beast of Boonton:

A wonderful show provided by Mark every week
Avatar 7:08pm
Beast of Boonton:

Techtonic meet and greet at the Liberty Science Center 2019
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