Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting the seventh Data Science and Ethics Book Club, organised by our friends at DataKind UK.
This was the final book club of the year and the topic up for discussion was AI and race. This is a hugely important conversation to advance as our lives become increasingly digital and influenced by algorithms and machine learning.
The reading list
The main book that anchored the evening’s talk was Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin, which provides an accessible but deep understanding about how technology can replicate and exacerbate racial inequality. This was complemented with the journal article Sebastian Benthall & Bruce D. Haynes, Racial Categories in machine learning.
There were also a few quick reads on the list:
- Jessie Daniels, Mutale Nkonde, Darakhshan Mir – Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech – Why ethics, diversity in hiring and implicit bias trainings aren’t enough.
- Karen Hao, This is how AI bias really happens—and why it’s so hard to fix. MIT Technology Review .
And some short watches:
- A poem performed by Joy Buolamwini – AI, Ain’t I A Woman?
- A talk by Safiya Noble in which she provides a short discussion of her book, Algorithms of Oppression .
- A comedy sketch on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee with guest correspondent Sasheer Zamata who discusses Afrofuturism.
It was a relaxed evening of interesting debate and exchange of ideas. After some brief introductions and nibbles, we split into small groups to discuss the readings. The conversations were helpfully prompted by some of the DataKind UK volunteers with questions such as, is technology neutral?
There were some really insightful examples put forward that looked at everything from traffic lights to the splitting of the atom. The attendees brought ideas from a range of different perspectives, backgrounds and organisations.
For more about what was discussed on the night, have a read of DataKind UK’s article here.
DataKind UK are a charity that use data science for social good. They manage teams of pro bono data scientists and technical experts to deliver on projects with their nonprofit partners.
We fully support their work and have hosted previous events in which they have spoken about their social good efforts. You can read more about their projects and their experience setting up an Ethics Committee here and keep an eye on their Eventbrite page to join the next book club sessions in the New Year.
Get in touch
We invest a lot of time and effort in supporting other socially-minded organisations. We regularly invite organisations to use our Park area for Meetups, talks and workshops. If you would like to use our space, please get in touch with our Social Purpose team – we’d love to hear what you’re working on.