We leven helaas nog steeds in een ­wereld waarin huidskleur een probleem is

Papa, mag ik die huidskleur?’ Verbaasd keek ik op van de kleurplaat die ik aan het inkleuren was, om mijn dochter te zien wijzen naar een stift met een perzikachtige kleur. Of misschien had die meer de kleur van een abrikoos. Afijn, de stift had in ieder geval niet háár huidskleur. Mijn dochter mag dan wel twee tinten lichter van kleur zijn dan ik, toch is zij overduidelijk bruin.

By Ilyaz Nasrulla for Trouw on September 23, 2021

Long overdue: Google has improved its camera app to work better for Black people

The following short video by Vox shows how white skin has always been the norm in photography. Black people didn’t start to look good on film until in the 1970s furniture makers complained to Kodak that their film didn’t render the difference between dark and light grained wood, and chocolate companies were upset that you couldn’t see the difference between dark and light chocolate.

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Building a More Equitable Camera

Pictures are deeply personal and play an important role in shaping how people see you and how you see yourself. But historical biases in the medium of photography have carried through to some of today’s camera technologies, leading to tools that haven’t seen people of color as they want and ought to be seen.

From YouTube on May 18, 2021

Google blocks advertisers from targeting Black Lives Matter

In this piece for Markup, Leon Yin and Aaron Sankin expose how Google bans advertisers from targeting terms such as “Black lives matter”, “antifascist” or “Muslim fashion”. At the same time, keywords such as “White lives matter” or “Christian fashion” are not banned. When they raised this striking discrepancy with Google, its response was to fix the discrepancies between religions and races by blocking all such terms, as well as by blocking even more social justice related keywords such as “I can’t breathe” or “LGBTQ”. Blocking these terms for ad placement can reduce the revenue for YouTuber’s fighting for these causes. Yin and Sankin place this policy in stark contrast to Google’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Youtube blocks advertisers from targeting

For a Markup feature, Leon Yin and Aaron Sankin compiled a list of “social and racial justice terms” with help from Color of Change, Media Justice, Mijente and Muslim Advocates, then checked if YouTube would let them target those terms for ads.

By Cory Doctorow for Pluralistic on April 10, 2021

The Fort Rodman Experiment

In 1965, IBM launched the most ambitious attempt ever to diversify a tech company. The industry still needs to learn the lessons of that failure.

By Charlton McIlwain for Logic on December 20, 2021

Filtering out the “Asians”

The article’s title speaks for itself, “Your iPhone’s Adult Content Filter Blocks Anything ‘Asian’”. Victoria Song has tested the claims made by The Independent: if you enable the “Limit Adult Websites” function in your iPhone’s Screen Time setting, then you are blocked from seeing any Google search results for “Asian”. Related searches such as “Asian recipes,” or “Southeast Asian,” are also blocked by the adult content filter. There is no clarity or transparency to how search terms are considered adult content or not, and whether the process is automated or done manually. Regardless of intention, the outcome and the lack of action by Google or Apple is unsurprising but disconcerting. It is far from a mistake, but rather, a feature of their commercial practices and their disregard to the social harms of their business model.

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The internet doesn’t have ‘universal’ users

Since 2017, Mozilla – the makers of the Firefox browser – have written a yearly report on the health of the internet. This year’s report focuses on labor rights, transparency and racial justice. The piece about racial justice makes an interesting argument about how the sites we see on the first page of a search engine are a reflection of the general popularity of these sites or their ability to pay for a top result. This leads to a ‘mainstream’ bias.

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Racist technology in action: Gun, or electronic device?

The answer to that question depends on your skin colour, apparently. An AlgorithmWatch reporter, Nicholas Kayser-Bril, conducted an experiment that went viral on Twitter, showing that Google Vision Cloud (a service which is based on a subset of AI known as “computer vision” that focuses on automated image labelling), labelled an image of a dark-skinned individual holding a thermometer with the word “gun”, whilst a lighter skinned individual was labelled holding an “electronic device”.

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Decode the Default

Technology has never been colorblind. It’s time to abolish notions of “universal” users of software.

From The Internet Health Report 2020 on January 1, 2021

Google fires AI researcher Timnit Gebru

Google has fired AI researcher and ethicist Timnit Gebru after she wrote an email criticising Google’s policies around diversity while she struggled with her leadership to get a critical paper on AI published. This angered thousands of her former colleagues and academics. They pointed at the unequal treatment that Gebru received as a black woman and they were worried about the integrity of Google’s research.

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