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The New Jim Code? Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology & Society

Thursday, March 4, 2021 | 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

  • Zoom

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, technology has the potential to hide, speed and deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racist practices of a previous era. In this talk, Dr. Ruha Benjamin, C'2001, explores a range of discriminatory designs that encode inequity -- what she terms the “New Jim Code.”

Dr. Benjamin will take us into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms and their many entanglements, and provide conceptual tools to decode tech promises with historical and sociological insight. She will also consider how race and gender are tools designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice and discuss how technology is and can be used toward liberatory ends. In doing so, she challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

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The Future is Intersectional Speaker Series is presented by the Spelman College Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM in collaboration with the Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative, UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and Mozilla Foundation.


Ruha BenjaminRuha Benjamin, C'2001, Ph.D., is a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, and author of the award-winning book "Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code," among many other publications. Her work investigates the social dimensions of science, medicine and technology with a focus on the relationship between innovation and inequity, health and justice, knowledge and power.

Dr. Benjamin earned a B.A. from Spelman College, M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from UC Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Society & Genetics and Harvard’s Science, Technology and Society Program. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation 2020 Freedom Scholar Award, and the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton. .

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