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In an ideal world, science would remove the bias of our perceptions to help us find objective truth. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world.

Shalini Kantayya’s Coded Bias reveals just how many implicit biases run throughout the practice and design of science and the many systems reliant upon it — putting hidden prejudice and structural biases into algorithmic realms that make a claim to be objective. Following pioneering MIT researcher Dr. Joy Buolamwini, the film explores how the assumptions made by computer programmers (the vast majority of whom are white men) have led to biases in software and programs affecting everything from facial recognition to human resources hiring to policing to public housing policy. In response to her research, Buolamwini travels the world, finding allies in the fight to root out structural racism and sexism and speaking truth to power about the need to understand the human equations undergirding “objective” science. A disturbing, and yet inspiring, film — this is a MUST SEE for every scientist, engineer, activist, and citizen to understand how to respond to the hidden power of coded biases.

(Shown as part of Penn State’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week Programming)