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Why Tech Made Racial Injustice Worse, and How to Fix It


June 26, 2020

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The technology industry is often centered on the idea that science and technology can solve many of humanity's problems and overcome longstanding obstacles to progress. In recent years, that narrative has been called into question as systems like artificial intelligence and facial recognition have reinforced the racial divide.

Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American studies at Princeton University, has positive prescriptions on how to better design future systems to overcome current injustices. 

"We need to look at who's actually developing the technology," Benjamin says. "If the context and the incentive structure in which that diverse workforce is developing technology remains the same — where the profit imperative trumps other kinds of public goods — then you can have as diverse a workforce as you want and you're still going to get many of the same problems we see today."

Benjamin encourages the tech industry to think about the entire ecosystem. "What would it mean to develop technology in the public interest, for the public good?," she asks.

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