More Than A Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech

The MIT Press Podcast

13-06-2024 • 47 min

Today’s book is: More Than A Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech (MIT Press, 2024), by Meredith Broussard. When technology reinforces inequality, it's not just a glitch—it's a signal that we need to redesign our systems to create a more equitable world. The word “glitch” implies an incidental error, as easy to patch up as it is to identify. But what if racism, sexism, and ableism aren't just bugs in mostly functional machinery? What if they're coded into the system itself?  Meredith Broussard demonstrates in More Than a Glitch how neutrality in tech is a myth and why algorithms need to be held accountable. Broussard, a data scientist and one of the few Black female researchers in artificial intelligence, masterfully synthesizes concepts from computer science and sociology. She explores a range of examples: from facial recognition technology trained only to recognize lighter skin tones, to mortgage-approval algorithms that encourage discriminatory lending, to the dangerous feedback loops that arise when medical diagnostic algorithms are trained on insufficiently diverse data. Even when such technologies are designed with good intentions, Broussard shows, fallible humans develop programs that can result in devastating consequences. Broussard argues that the solution isn't to make omnipresent tech more inclusive, but to root out the algorithms that target certain demographics as “other” to begin with. With sweeping implications for fields ranging from jurisprudence to medicine, the ground-breaking insights of More Than a Glitch are essential reading for anyone invested in building a more equitable future. Our guest is: Meredith Broussard, who is an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University, research director at the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology, and the author of several books, including More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech, and Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Her academic research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting and ethical AI, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, the producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell. Welcome to Academic Life, the podcast for your academic journey—and beyond! Join us again to learn from more experts inside and outside the academy, and around the world. You can help support the show by downloading, sharing, posting about, or assigning any of our 200+ episodes.