EDITORIAL

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the Black & Asian Heritage Mix Newsletter.

This March 2019 issue is dedicated to “Mathematics, information science and the digital”, that are believed to be universal. Apparently, it is not so. According to various activists, a critical examination of old systems of knowledge production is overdue.

Information scholar Safiya Umoja Noble, who will deliver this year’s National Archives Annual Digital Lecture the “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism” argues in her book that the over reliance on search engines as Google for public information is problematic at a time when data is increasingly commercialised and public libraries and archives are disappearing.

Data scientist Cathy O’Neil’s book, “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increase Inequality and Threatens Democracy” also explores how poorly regulated algorithms make hiring, policing and financial decisions. Computer scientist and founder of the Algorithm Justice League Joy Buolamwini further argues that the “the coded gaze” or bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI) can not only lead to exclusionary and discriminatory practices but also to the criminalization of Black people.

Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute and Anasuya Sengupta from “Whose Knowledge”, a global campaign to decolonise the internet also point out that even web content from public digital platforms as Wikipedia are not editorially diverse enough. The online free encyclopedia is primarily edited by “white men from Europe and North America” in all its language versions, which creates knowledge gaps. In other words, “20% of the world or less shapes our understanding of 80% of the world.”

As Buolamwini observes “As more people question how seemingly neutral technology has gone astray, it’s becoming clear just how important it is to have broader representation in the design, development, deployment, and governance of AI. The underrepresentation of women and people of color in technology, and the under-sampling of these groups in the data that shapes AI, has led to the to the creation of technology that is optimized for a small portion of the world.”

Admittedly, many people already use the digital (including social media) to question, disrupt and subvert biased dominant technological infrastructures. It will however be interesting to see the impact of the world’s first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (an advisory body dedicated to strengthening and improving the UK’s use of data and artificial intelligence) on the heritage sector. This new centre is expected to work in tandem with organizations as the Open Data Institute (ODI), which seeks to build more open, trustworthy data ecosystems. For instance, as Hanna Foulds (ODI) explains, “By digitising and releasing its collection of 80 million specimens for anyone to access, the Natural History Museum engages people around the world to discover, analyse and even 3D-print them.”

However, is it possible to compare the use of new digital technologies to print out your own copy of Dippy the Diplodocus with the 3D-printing of ancient cultural assets? As academic Sarah Bond pertinently asks, what are “The Ethics of 3D-Printing Syria’s Cultural Heritage”? Is there a risk that the digital replication of lost world heritage treasures nurtures a new era of “digital colonialism” and heritage misappropriation?

Happy Reading!

Thushari Perera

 

INFORMATION SCIENCE

Book

ALGORITHMS OF OPPRESSION:
HOW SEARCH ENGINES REINFORCE RACISM

By Safiya Umoja Noble

Safiya Umoja Noble’s website here

 

Review

GOOGLE SEARCH ALGORITHMS ARE NOT IMPARTIAL. THEY CAN BE BIASED, JUST LIKE THEIR DESIGNERS.

Search patterns matter because sites like Google are becoming increasingly powerful arbiters of public information.

By Noah Berlatsky

(NBC News, 21 February 2018)

Find out more here

 

Short Video (2 min 39)

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALGORITHMS

By Cathy O’Neil

Watch on You Tube here

 

Book

WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION: HOW BIG DATA INCREASE INEQUALITY AND THREATENS DEMOCRACY

By Cathy O’Neil

Cathy O’Neil’s blog here

 

Review

WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION

In an important new book, Cathy O’Neil warns us that algorithms can and do perpetuate inequality

By Evelyn Lamb

(Scientific American, 31 August 2016)

Find out more here

 

News article

DON’T SLEEP ON TECH GIANTS’ CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE DOMINANCE

By Eric Clemons

(The Hill, 2 July 2019)

Find out more here

 

News article

WE’RE ALL CONNECTED NOW, SO WHY IS THE INTERNET SO WHITE AND WESTERN?

Google and Wikipedia have a responsibility to see that their content isn’t skewed – and we users should hold them to account

By Mark Graham and Anasuya Sengupta

(The Guardian, 5 October 2017)

Find out more here

 

Website

WHOSE KNOWLEDGE?

A global campaign to center the knowledge of marginalized communities (the majority of the world) on the internet

Find out more here

 

Free Book

DIGITAL ECONOMIES AT GLOBAL MARGINS

By Mark Graham

(MIT Press, IDRC, 12 February 2019)

“Over the last five years, more than one billion people became new Internet users. Once, digital connectivity was confined to economically prosperous parts of the world; now Internet users make up a majority of the world’s population. In this book, contributors from a range of disciplines and locations investigate the impact of increased digital connectivity on people and places at the world’s economic margins. Does the advent of a digitalized economy mean that those in economic peripheries can transcend spatial, organizational, social, and political constraints—or do digital tools and techniques tend to reinforce existing inequalities? The contributors present a diverse set of case studies, reporting on digitalization in countries ranging from Chile to Kenya to the Philippines, and develop a broad range of theoretical positions. They consider, among other things, data-driven disintermediation, women’s economic empowerment and gendered power relations, digital humanitarianism and philanthropic capitalism, the spread of innovation hubs, hackathons, the gig economy, and a rethinking of how a more progressive politics of connectivity could look.” (Mark Graham)

Find out more here

 

Video (15 min 07)

WE’RE TRAINING MACHINES TO BE RACIST.  THE FIGHT AGAINST BIAS IS ON

By Joy Buolamwini

(Wired UK, 10 April 2018)

Watch on YouTube here

 

News article

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE HAS A PROBLEM WITH GENDER AND RACIAL BIAS. HERE’S HOW TO SOLVE IT

By Joy Buolamwini

(Time Magazine, 7 February 2019)

Find out more here

 

News article

FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE IS NOT READY FOR USE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT

By Brian Brackeen

(Techcrunch, 2018)

Find out more here

 

News article

‘WORRYING’ LACK OF DIVERSITY IN BRITAIN’S TECH SECTOR, REPORT FINDS

By Alex Hern

(The Guardian, 14 November 2018)

Find out more here

 

Free Academic article

MAPPING THE UK INFORMATION WORKFORCE IN THE LIBRARY, ARCHIVES, RECORDS, INFORMATION MANAGEMENT, KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND RELATED PROFESSIONS

By Hazel Hall & Robert Raeside

(Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 2015, 53 (1) )

Find out more here

 

Government Statement

WORLD FIRST CENTRE FOR DATA ETHICS AND INNOVATION

(Parliament UK, 20 November 2018)

Find out more here

 

News article

INTERRACIAL COUPLES AND DISABILITY-FRIENDLY EMOJI COMING SOON TO SMARTPHONES

By Matthew S. Schwartz

(NPR, 7 February 2019)

Find out more here

 

MUSEUMS & HERITAGE SITES

 

News article

THE ETHICS OF 3D-PRINTING SYRIA’S CULTURAL HERITAGE

By Sarah Bond

(Forbes, 22 September 2016)

Find out more here

 

Website

INSTITUTE FOR DIGITAL ARCHAEOLOGY UK

Find out more here

 

Blog

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM: ‘WE HOPE PEOPLE WILL DISCOVER NEW SPECIES WITH OUR OPEN DATA’

By Hannah Foulds

(Open Data Institute, 13 October 2015)

Find out more here

 

ARCHIVES

 

News article

CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP AT THE BLACK CULTURAL ARCHIVES

By Eleanor Mills

(Museum Association Journal News, 14 February 2019)

Find out more here

 

Free Academic Article

REVISING HISTORY AND RE-AUTHOURING THE LEFT IN THE POSTCOLONIAL DIGITAL ARCHIVE

By Roopika Risam, Salem State University

(Digital Humanities Commons, 2015)

Find out more here

 

ART

 

Blog

BEHIND THE CURTAIN: ART AND THE MORALITY OF GATHERING PUBLIC INFORMATION

By Alistair Gentry, Open Data Institute

(12 October 2018)

Find out more here

 

Report

ARTS COUNCIL’S DIVERSITY REPORT REVEALS SECTOR LAGGING BEHIND NATIONAL AVERAGE

By Museums+Heritage Advisor

 (Museums+Heritage Advisor, 12 February 2019)

Find out more here

 

EVENTS

 

2 April 2019

ANNUAL DIGITAL LECTURE: ALGORITHMS OF OPPRESSION
    (The National Archives, London)

Book: Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

The landscape of information is rapidly shifting as new imperatives and demands push to the fore increasing investment in digital technologies. Yet, critical information scholars continue to demonstrate how digital technology and its narratives are shaped by and infused with values that are not impartial, disembodied, or lacking positionality. Technologies consist of a set of social practices, situated within the dynamics of race, gender, class, and politics, and in the service of something – a position, a profit motive, a means to an end. In this talk, Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble will discuss her new book, Algorithms of Oppression, and the impact of marginalization and misrepresentation in commercial information platforms like Google search, as well as the implications for public information needs. The talk will be followed by a poster display, showcasing the innovative digital research currently being undertaken by the National Archives.

Speaker biography:

Dr. Noble is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Communication, and is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press). Previously, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA where she held appointments in the Departments of African American Studies, Gender Studies, and Education.

Noble’s academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology design. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of two books: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online (Peter Lang, Digital Formations, 2016), and Emotions, Technology & Design(Elsevier, 2015).

Time schedule:

6:15 Registration

6:30 Lecture starts

7:30 Networking event with poster exhibition

8:30 Event Close

Find out more here

 

16 May 2019 – 26 August 2019

AI: MORE THAN HUMAN

(The Barbican, London)

Prepare to meet the future.

 “’This highly interactive exhibition could not be more topical’ – artnet

AI: More Than Human explores the world of artificial intelligence. Examining the boundaries between human and machine, it poses big questions of life itself with which you are invited to engage head-on. A centre-wide ‘festival-style’ takeover, the show offers an unprecedented survey of creative and scientific developments in AI, demonstrating how this technology works and its potential to revolutionise our lives. Visitors can also experience AI first-hand through works from artists including Joy Buolamwini, Mario Klingemann, Kode9, Lauren McCarthy, Yoichi Ochiai, Neri Oxman and Lawrence Lek, all of whom use AI as a medium and a force of inspiration in its own right. This timely exhibition will challenge everyone to think differently about AI, and themselves.”

Find out more here

 

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