Virginia Eubanks: Automating Inequality and Algorithmic Justice

FRI, MAR 23, 2018 (58:53)

For two decades Virginia Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. In this talk she discusses her book, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. It's a hard look at how we've turned over decision-making to algorithms and statistical models, leaving the disadvantaged and less-connected behind.

Eubanks is joined in conversation by Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT.

Presented by the Harvard Book Store, Harvard Kennedy School's digitalHKS, the MIT Center for Civic Media, and Mass Humanities.

Photo: By United States Department of Agriculture [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

+ BIO: Virginia Eubanks

Virginia Eubanks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is the author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor; Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in The American Prospect, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired. For two decades, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. Today, she is a founding member of the Our Data Bodies Project and a Fellow at New America. She lives in Troy, NY.

+ BIO: Ethan Zuckerman

Ethan Zuckerman's main affiliation is with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Geekcorps was his main project until quite recently. It's an international non-profit organization that transfers tech skills from geeks in developed nations to geeks in emerging nations, especially entrepreneurial geeks who are building small businesses. Zuckerman co-founded the organization in early 2000 with a number of friends who were interested in bridging the gaps between the geek world and the international development world.

In 1994, he dropped out of graduate school and joined a couple of friends in Williamstown, MA in building one of the first "pure" dot.com companies - Tripod. As the only person on the team who knew HTML, he became the "tech guy" - later outclassed by guys who could program circles around him, Zuckerman became "bizdev guy", "legal guy", "customer service guy" and "R&D guy" before settling, briefly, on "retired guy".

He lives with his wife Rachel in Lanesboro, MA, a rural town of about 3,000 in Berkshire County. Zuckerman currently serves on the board of the foundation, which works to help artisans in developing worlds support their communities and families. He is also on the boards of the Prospect Foundation, an organization that works on technology training and workforce development in the Berkshires, and RadioVoodoo, a technology company building cool interactive voice systems for radio stations and other industries.

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