For a meeting last week at MPOW we were asked to read Algorithms of Oppression, by Safiya Umoja Noble. As a cis, white male, I found it a good reminder of a lot of stuff I am vaguely aware of, but don't have to "deal with" in the same way as the majority of the world. She makes quite a few references to the library world, in addition to her main focus, which is Google.
Turns out it was an incredibly well-timed read, as that same week, on Dec. 2, Dr. Timnit Gebru was fired from Google for raising pretty much the same points. Well, it's more complicated than that, but that's what it boils down to.
If you're unfamiliar with the story, here are some links:
- Google ethics researcher’s departure renews worries the company is silencing whistleblowers
- Backlash against Google grows over firing of prominent Black A.I. researcher
- The mentioned emails: https://www.platformer.news/p/the-withering-email-that-got-an-ethical
- The Open Letter of Support: https://googlewalkout.medium.com/standing-with-dr-timnit-gebru-isupporttimnit-believeblackwomen-6dadc300d382 (which you, too, can sign, not that it seems it will do any good, but you gotta start somewhere!)