The search engines that we use throughout the day, like Google and Yahoo, aren’t just useful digital tools. They’re also multi-billion dollar companies that track our browsing habits and sell that data to advertisers and marketers. They also invest heavily in developing artificial intelligence – highly complex algorithms meant to predict and manipulate our behavior. But just as humans have biases, so do the algorithms. And that has real-world implications that can lead to greater inequity, particularly against people of color and women.
This is the subject of Dr. Safiya Noble’s research. She’s an associate professor of gender studies and African American studies, as well as founder and co-director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. Her bestselling book “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism” helped popularize the current interest in AI bias. And she’s a 2021 MacArthur “genius grant” recipient.