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# Race against Technology: Default Discrimination
## What is a glitch? Why does Benjamin suggest that we think about glitches as signals of how systems operate? Have you witnessed anti-Blackness framed as a glitch by tech companies, by the media, or by the police? How can glitches alert us to deeper patterns of discrimination?
[Derek Borders] A glitch, according to Wikipedia, is "a short-lived fault in a system, such as a transient fault that corrects itself, making it difficult to troubleshoot." A glitch can be contrasted with a 'bug', which is more serious problem that affects functionality generally.
I don't know that I would characterize the things Benjamin refers to as 'Racist Glitches' as glitches at all. I suppose it makes more sense in the context of the Matrix analogy she's committed to in this section. The way she uses the term is closer to what I would call a red flag. A relatively insignificant piece of information that serves as an indicator for a larger issue. Benjamin suggests we think about these glitches as signals of how systems operate essentially because they are red flags.
Honestly, this whole section seems like she's really working to cram something obvious into a pop culture analogy she likes. Of course we should be aware that powerful, wealthy people who accidentally drop the N-word have the capacity and very likely the propensity to be major drivers of systemic racism. What surprised me in this section was that the NAACP (an organization famously involved in the legal side of civil rights) was considering awarding a lifetime achievement award to somebody with a documented pattern of housing discrimination. Who is on that committee? There's no way a whole bunch of their volunteers and attorneys didn't know about that. Why was he up for it to begin with?
Additionally, I am inclined to agree with the 'some' who consider the media explosion around rich and famous racists letting racial slurs slip in public being a distraction. However, as I get older and have less energy to devote to political outrage, I'm realizing that these things aren't necessarily distracting us from going after the shadier, more complex stuff. It's just distracting us from some other surface level nonsense. The shady, complex stuff is just heavier and doesn't hold public attention like Mel Gibson drunkenly spouting racist craziness at a cop. I think without the shocking, easy to digest stuff coming in at a steady pace, stoking our outrage, a lot of people will forget or assume the world is all better now.
## How is technology used for surveillance? What messages have you seen about surveillance as a necessary or helpful mechanism? How is surveillance used to facilitate systemic discrimination?
[Joseph Shifman] Many surveillance technologies have been created recently that expand its possibilities. Cameras and facial-recognition algorithms are some popular examples. Targeted surveillance contributes to systemic discrimination, and it is seen in how the police perform surveillance. Police surveil neighborhoods with high risk, and continue feeding risk models with data primarily from previously determined "high risk" neighborhoods and discriminate against that population. Personally, I cannot justify any level of surveillance other than for security. Having surveillance technologies at a big event (like a professional sports match) could lower the risk of wrongdoing, but also invade people's privacy.
[Brandon Trahms] Surveillance technology has been massively spurred by the advent of the internet. The ability to monitor traffic has become gold to data collecting companies and governmants alike. Most justifiy survelliance as either a helpful efficiency mechanism in respect to a company while also being justified via national security by governments. I the best example of it's usage is by the Chinese government and the social credit system which can greatly affect a individuals life based on their tracked actions and speach. If any thing would indicate that they did or said anything considered "bad" by the government then they will be discriminated against on basic services and potentially jailed.
## Where have you seen the narrative of individual “bad apples” used? How does this narrative obscure harmful policies and structures? How can you resist this narrative?
[ Matt Solone ] - Recently I have seen the 'bad apple' term used in American politics following the excessive force used by Policemen accross the country which began the outcry for police reformation and the dispersion of the funds they recieved, this term has usually been used on the side that say that the Police climate in America does not need to be changed and that one "bad apple" is giving the entire program a bad rap. This narrative of 'bad apples' obscures harmful structures as it tuyrns the audiences' attention away from the backbone of the incident and turns their frustration onto the individual ( or individuals ) involved in the act. Resisting this narrative is by looking deeper past the the people who committed it ( still keep them accountable ) and asking the question of where does this stem from. Is it legislature, indiviual units, the head of the organization, etc?
[Rica Rebusit] - George Floyd’s death. There are 2 ways one can interpret “bad apples”. Officials used the saying to defend police organizations that those officers were being uncivil doing their job and that they'll be punished for it, that all police officers aren't like them, temporarily obscuring the flaws of the organizations.
While much of society believed the saying bad apples was representative of police organizations as a whole, bringing up times where the police have been unjust multiple times thus emerging the whole black lives matter movement.
## What are some examples of hostile and defensive architecture? How does this engineering reflect and reinforce social hierarchies? Where have you witnessed examples of this type of design in your community?
[ Joshua Vong ] - An example of defensive architecture is roads that allow bikers or skateboarders to pass on through while avoiding pedestrian traffic. So that way both sides are able to cross without collision. An example of hostile architecture is benches with dividers in the middle to prevent people from laying down or spikes to make it uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time. In the book it mentions Long Island parkway systems that prevent buses from being able to use them, instead it was meant for actual cars, cars driven by more of the wealthy class compared to the low income working class who had to take the bus. Not sure if this counts as a witness to reinforce social hierarchies or reflect them, but growing up I always noticed liquor stores in these areas that aren’t that nice, I’m not talking about stores like bevmo, but smaller locally owned liquor stores in these not so well neighborhoods. Again not sure if this is a stretch or if there is a meaning behind this.
[Skip Moses] Examples of hostile architecture include benches with intermittent arm rests that prevent someone from sleeping on them. This engineering restricts what activities can be conducted in certain public spaces. These limitations on accessibility are what reinforce social hierarchies. In my home county a town benches with interment arm rests such as the ones described in the book.
[ Thomas Smale ] - Defensive architecture are benches with arm chairs that prevent homeless people from sleeping on them or the spikes on buildings that keep birds off them. These archetictual designs like a wavy bench may appear to be artistic but it also serves the purpose of making a sleep there impossibly uncomforateble. It's job is to deter people from sleeping there. These features affect homeless people by isolating them further from urban life. Recently in Chico, I walked down this staircase downtown during the night time, but after a few steps the loudest alarm of my life went off. Defensive architecture may also inconvience "ordinary" people beccause it doesn't seem to be stopping the homelessness crisis. It would be interesting to see the concentration of defensive architecture and the number of homeless people in that area to see if it really is effective.
## How do search engines reproduce social biases? How do algorithms replicate the technology of race? What are some of the consequences of a system that is regularly updating, refreshing, and reflecting stereotypes of criminality, innocence, and sexualization?
[ Ethan Nguyen ] - Search engines reproduce social biases by reflecting back biases that exist within society. Algorithms replicate the technology of race by learning from their user base and in that process integrating many different associations users may have with different races. Benjamin brings up the viral example of a google image search for ‘three ____ teenager’ returning widely different results; ‘three black teenager’ mostly returned criminal mugshots, “three white teengaer” mostly returned “smiling, go-lucky youths” and ‘three asian teenager’ mostly returned “scantily clad girls and women”. The consequence of all this is that it may begin to reinforce these stereotypes.
[Faith Fatchen] Search engines are updated using human behavior. These algorithm are learning from the biases perpertuated by society. Benjamin presents examples of racial sterotypes being refelected by Google's search engine. When Google addressed the question "Is Google being racist?", they deflected the question by hiding behind the perceived objectifity of algorithms. Having technology present these biases seems different to me. Seeing biased ideas presented by something that many consider objective may make an individual feel justified in their biased beliefs.