tech ai people

EDITORIAL

Dear Readers,

In this week’s issue you will find several articles exploring how our world is increasingly controlled by artificial intelligence (AI).

In the UK, Sajid Javid, the health secretary, is exploring how to tackle racial inequality in healthcare with technology (e.g. maternity health disparity etc.). Google is reported to have tweaked its image search for more racially diverse results.

What is however worrying is that a report by the Institute for Freedom of Faith and Security in Europe has found that social media platforms struggle to control the spread of COVID-related Antisemitic and Islamophobic conspiracy theories. Relatedly, the Wall Street Journal has claimed that Facebook relies on an incompetent AI algorithm to remove hate speech. Critics also warn that police use of automated risk assessments exacerbates racism and prejudice, as EU lawmakers push for strict regulation of predictive policing.

The use of AI in recruitment may also become increasingly insidious as it lacks scrutiny. According to tech experts, “While the EU aims to define its digital future with the Digital Services Act, job seekers all over Europe are being left at the mercy of biased algorithms on digital jobs platforms.”

Keep Well & Stay Safe,

Thushari Perera

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UK NEWS

EDUCATION

welcome

Teach children Polish and Arabic to reflect ‘modern Britain’, schools minister says, inews, 22 October 2021

“Schools should expand the languages they teach to “reflect modern Britain a little bit more”, the minister says.”

Does The Higher Education Bill Threaten Our Human Rights?, Each Other, 21 October 2021

“…research by the Office for Students (OFS) revealed that, of 59,574 events proposed at higher education institutions in the year 2017/18, only 53 speaking engagements were refused, making the practice relatively rare…”

Wales to offer cash bonuses to recruit more Black, Asian and minority ethnic teachers, The Independent, 22 October 2021

“The move will be the first time that a UK nation has offered financial incentives to help recruit more minority ethnic teachers… ‘It is simply not good enough that fewer than 2 per cent of teachers are from an ethnic minority background…’ the Welsh Government would be introducing a new award, the Betty Campbell Award, to celebrate ‘the individual, team or school that has demonstrated an outstanding awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the classroom’.”

Student loan system has disadvantaged almost 100,000 Muslim students, The Canary, 12 October 2021

“Interim results from a survey by Muslim Census found that many Muslim students reported that tuition fees and loans had directly impacted their studies. This is because many Muslims do not take on loans with interest as it’s forbidden in Islam by RibaThe researchers urged the government that Alternative Student Finance (ASF) is needed to prevent further inequality.”

 

HEALTH & WELL-BEING

NHS EDI

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Training: A good practice guide, NHS Employers, 15 October 2021

“Published by the NHS Staff Council, this is a framework for the delivery of mandatory NHS equality, diversity and inclusion training for all staff.”

The disease of disparity: A blueprint to make progress on health inequalities in England, IPPR, 19 October 2021

“Health inequalities are wide and widening in England.”

Sunak must fund mental health system to tackle racial inequalities, psychiatrists warn, inews, 19 October 2021

“Black people are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act…a new report commissioned by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found that the proposed changes will result in an increased workload for psychiatrists; to implement these vital reforms, an additional 333 psychiatrists are needed by 2023/24, and a further 161 by 2033/34.”

Poorer children should be allowed to garden at school to help mental health after lockdowns, study finds, inews, 18 October 2021

“The research, carried out by the universities of Cambridge and Sussex and published in People and Nature, found that children from wealthier families tended to have increased their connection to nature during the pandemic more than those from poorer families.”

 

CULTURE, MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT

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U.K. Industry Demands Answers Over BBC’s Alleged Blocked Appointment of Diversity Champion, Yahoo News, 20 October 2021

“The BBC is under fire for Director General Tim Davie’s alleged involvement in blocking the appointment of prominent diversity champion Marcus Ryder, with a growing chorus of industry voices declaring that campaigning for racial equality shouldn’t be viewed as an impartiality issue.”

Guardian’s first diversity executive Joseph Harker says: ‘I want to make sure all people from all backgrounds feel at ease here’, Press Gazette, 19 October 2021

“Harker’s remit includes working on improving the diversity of both the Guardian’s editorial staff and its coverage, which will mean looking at areas such as recruitment and training and ensuring the newsroom follows the initiatives set out in its various diversity action plans.”

Less than 25% of kids say UK TV represents them, Televisual, 15 October 2021

“…57% of children in 2021 (an increase from 54% in 2020) felt that there are not enough people who look like them on TV, whilst many children with a disability, from ethnic minority backgrounds or from LGBTQ+ community felt they were completely invisible from TV altogether. The findings show that television is a media form that young audiences still value for the sense of shared viewing and experiences it offers and that children, particularly younger children, see TV as a key part of their education…”

CONSUMER ISSUES

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Asos, Primark Among 36 U.K. Businesses Calling for Tighter Labor, Environmental Laws, Yahoo, 22 October 2021

AsosPrimarkTesco and the British Retail Consortium are among the organizations “calling on U.K. government to urgently introduce a new U.K. law to hold companies to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harms,” per a joint statement.”

OPINION: How to identify and prevent forced labour in global supply chains, Thomas Reuters Foundation, 18 October 2021

“Our latest report looked into over 100,000 social audits conducted across 158 countries over the past five years. The analysis reveals, for the first time, the true scale and scope of forced labour indicators in global supply chains.”

TECH

diversity tech

Google tweaks image search for more racially diverse results, News24/Bloomberg News, 20 October 2021

“The recent change, implemented without a formal announcement, is meant to present a variety of skin tones in image queries related to beauty, such as “beautiful skin” and “professional hairstyles”, as well as simpler people-related searches like “woman” or “happy family,” the Alphabet-owned company said on Tuesday.”

AI projects to tackle racial inequality in UK healthcare, says Javid, The Guardian, 20 October 2021

“Exclusive: health secretary signs up to hi-tech schemes countering health disparities and reflecting minority ethnic groups’ data.”

Facebook Defends Its AI’s Effectiveness Against Hate Speech, Fossbytes, 18 October 2021

“In its latest report, WSJ revealed that Facebook mainly relies on an incompetent AI algorithm to remove hate speech.”

EMPLOYMENT & WORK

minority lawyer

Law firm’s recruitment manager devises award-winning social mobility programme, DiversityQ, 21 October 2021

“The programme aims to support social mobility by offering students from lower socio-economic and minority backgrounds equal access to work experience to help them build a career in the legal sector.”

Pork butchers latest to get temporary visas, Free Movement, 15 October 2021

“Butchers were already eligible for the mainstream Skilled Worker visa. But bringing them in under Skilled Worker would require paying a minimum salary of £25,600 a year. Not so for Seasonal Worker, for which the eligibility requirements specify only “national minimum wage”.”

How HR can step up and support Afghan refugees, HR Magazine, 11 October 2021

“Businesses need to create a stand to make a better world,” she says. “But more than this, refugees are often highly skilled, resilient assets and fantastic employees.”

Black scientists say UK research is institutionally racist, BBC News, 12 October 2021

“It found that 6.5% of black people who begin research drop out, compared with 3.8% white students. For those who remain in science, 3.5% are made professors – whereas it’s nearly 12% of their white counterparts who do. Overall, black people account for 1.7% of research staff – whereas they make up 3.4% of the UK population.”

 

MIGRATION

Domestic Abuse Safety Before Status Report

Migrant victims forced to stay with abusers or face destitution because they can’t access public funds, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, 20 October 2021

Report recognises “Immigration abuse” for the first time as being used by abusers as a form of coercion and control”

Brexit and UK immigration policy ‘increasing risks to trafficking victims’, The Guardian, 20 October 2021

“The report’s authors are concerned the New Plan For Immigration risks increasing the vulnerability of victims of trafficking who are undocumented migrants…The number of possible victims of trafficking referred to the UK’s national referral mechanism (NRM) has grown tenfold, from 1,182 in 2012 to 10,627 in 2019.”

Home Office criticised over handling of Sri Lankan scientist’s asylum claim, The Guardian, 18 October 2021

“A year after lodging his asylum claim, Muhunthan was given permission by the Home Office to work because his area of expertise was listed as a shortage occupation. However, although he applied for university research jobs, the fact that he did not have UK residency deterred prospective employers.”

Priti Patel threatening to use X-rays to verify asylum seekers’ ages, The Guardian, October 2021

“Nationality and borders bill would allow for ‘scientific’ measuring of bones or taking of DNA samples.”

JUSTICE SYSTEM & POLICING

boy

Hair discrimination should be designated as a form of racism, campaigners and MPs say, Sky News, 20 October 2021

“The campaign hopes that guidance from the government would take education a step further, making afro-textured hair a protected characteristic.”

Is Hate Crime Legislation An Effective Defence Against Discrimination?, Each Other, 14 October 2021

“From the start of the coronavirus pandemic to March 2021, hate crimes have increased by 9%, with 124,091 reports across England and Wales. Racially motivated crimes make up nearly three-quarters of the total number, and the number of hate crimes reported to the police has nearly doubled in the last five years.”

Black and mixed heritage boys receiving poor support from youth offending services, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, October 2021

“Many of the black and mixed heritage boys in the inspected cases faced multiple disadvantages. Sixty per cent of those who had received a court sentence had been excluded from school; youth justice staff found it very challenging to find suitable educational alternatives for these boys. Half of the boys in the inspected cases had faced racial discrimination in their life; a third had been victims of criminal exploitation and a quarter had a disability.” Read the Report here

Over half of pupils in Sheffield school referral units ‘black or minority ethnic’ reveals critical report, The Star, 21 October 2021

“More than half the children in Sheffield’s pupil referral units for excluded school children are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, officials have revealed.”

Home Secretary pledges greater diversity in police forces, The Evening Standard, 20 October 2021

“The proportion of officers in England and Wales who identify as black and Asian stands at 7.6%.”

British Muslims Encouraged Not To ‘Remain Silent’ On Hate Crimes, Huffington Post, 20 October 2021

“Terrorist attacks often spark fresh waves of Islamophobia. Here’s how it feels to be on the receiving end.”

RELIGION

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British Muslim group releases 6-step guide to keeping mosques safe amid heightened concerns, The New Arab, 21 October 2021

“The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has created a six-step guide on how to keep mosques safe following the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, as concerns on Islamophobia continue to grow. The 10-page guidance is aimed at helping congregations, mosque goers and religious religious leaders protect the premises as well as the local community at large.”

SPORT

golf

Ambitious Black British Golfers driving the fairway with young talent the key, The Voice, 6 July 2021

“BBG is creating an impressive platform which will bring together a large swathe of black British golfers from across the UK for the first time.” Find out more @BlackBritishGolfers.

 

ENVIRONMENT

UN Climate Conference

Climate crisis: Why do we need COP anyway?, Deutsche Welle, 20 October 2021

“Greta Thunberg recently told the Guardian: “Nothing has changed from previous years really. … We can have as many COPs as we want, but nothing real will come out of it.”… The problem many critics see is that there aren’t any financial or legal sanctions if countries don’t reach their targets.”

THE MONARCHY & ROYALS

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First-Ever Winners Of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize Announced, The Royal Foundation, 17 October 2021

“The Earthshot Prize tonight revealed the first-ever five Prize Winners of the most prestigious environment awards in history at a glittering ceremony held at London’s Alexandra Palace. Each of these five Winners will receive £1million prize money and a global network of professional and technical support to scale their remarkable environmental solutions to repair our planet and accelerate their impact.”

The Royal Family has done much for the climate change cause but needs to do more, say green campaigners, inews, 15 October 2021

“They own nearly 2 per cent of the UK’s land and a lot of it is pretty bleak from a wildlife point of view.”

Barbados elects its first-ever president, removing Queen and shedding colonial past, Sky News, 22 October 2021

“Dame Sandra will be sworn in on 30 November – the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from Britain. The former jurist has been governor-general of the island since 2018, and was also the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.”

WIDER EUROPE NEWS

AI entrepreneur

Europe wants to champion human rights. So why doesn’t it police biased AI in recruiting?, Sifted, 8 October 2021

“EU policymakers say they want to chart a “third-way” for AI regulation. One that respects human rights like privacy. But proposed AI regulation and regulators at all levels of government in the region are ignoring one key factor: race. Nowhere is that more clear than in the area of recruitment. While the EU aims to define its digital future with the Digital Services Act, job seekers all over Europe are being left at the mercy of biased algorithms on digital jobs platforms.”

Pushback against AI policing in Europe heats up over racism fears, Thomas Reuters foundation News, 20 October 2021

“Critics warn police use of automated risk assessments exacerbates racism and prejudice, as EU lawmakers push for strict regulation of predictive policing.”

Social Media Platforms Struggle to Control Spread of COVID-Related Antisemitic, Islamophobic Conspiracy Theories, Report Says, The Algemeiner, 19 October 2021

“…the report cited online narratives including the notion that Jews are orchestrating COVID-19 in order to grab power…the report unearthed Islamophobic content on social media accusing Muslims of being unclean or deliberately spreading the coronavirus…”

The European Union has blood on its hands – we can’t be complicit, EU Observer, 20 October 2021

“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has estimated that only in the Mediterranean 22,726 people have gone missing since 2014…the European Parliament’s Frontex Scrutiny Working Group released its report providing evidence of violations taking place at the EU’s external borders, acknowledging that Frontex was aware of them and failed to act.”

Trafficking victims unable to get help because of ‘financially unviable’ legal aid, report Council of Europe, The Justice Gap, 20 October 2021

“The Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) published its evaluation of the UK’s implementation of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. It found that the number of potential victims of trafficking referred to the NRM grew from 1,182 in 2012 to 10,613 in 2020.”

 

FRANCE

“Simply Black,” Reviewed: An Urgent Mockumentary About Racial Politics in France, New Yorker, 4 October 2021

“Jean-Pascal Zadi, the co-director and star, uses satirical celebrity portraits to expose the exclusions from French life that even prosperous Black people endure.”

Éric Zemmour: the far-right polemicist’s ideas have a long history in France, The Conversation, 17 October 2021

“Zemmour’s pronouncements may be incendiary, but through them we can see that the old idea of a French nation defined in racial terms has had a lasting influence on contemporary debate. One such idea is that of “universalism”, which holds that the national characteristic of being French supersedes any other identity an individual may have. But if immigrants are asked to defer to French traditions based on an assumption that such traditions are inherently universal, universalism becomes not a form of humanism that embraces diversity, but rather a nationalistic symbol.”

GERMANY

What did the German federal election mean for equality and diversity in the Bundestag?, Social Europe, 19 October 2021

“Despite the share of women and of representatives with a minority background increasing by a small margin, there is still a long way to go.”

Germany: Right-wing extremism in North Rhine-Westphalia police force, Word Socialist Web, 19 October 2021

“There have now been 53 confirmed cases of right-wing extremist activities in the police force of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.”

Cherif Souleymane: ‘I was the only black player in East Germany’, BBC Sport, 20 October 2021

“When Cherif Souleymane travelled from Guinea to East Germany to study architecture in 1962, the then 17-year-old had no idea that within a year he would be reshaping East German football.”

ITALY

Tens of Thousands of Italian Anti-Fascist Protesters Rally in Rome, DemocracyNow, 19 October 2021

“In Italy, tens of thousands of anti-fascist protesters rallied in Rome on Saturday in a show of strength one week after right-wing extremists smashed into the offices of Italy’s oldest trade union organization.”

IRELAND

Racial abuse and poor working conditions reported by migrant fishermen, RTE.ie., 18 October 2021

“Non-European Union workers in the fishing industry here experience racist insults, verbal abuse and extremely long working hours, according to a study by Maynooth University.”

Third of minority ethnic university staff subjected to racial discrimination on campus, Irish Examiner, 18 October 2021

“A new report has, for the first time, shone a light on the issues of racial and ethnic discrimination faced by minority ethnic staff at the country’s universities and colleges. The findings are issued by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and include input from some 3,300 staff working in higher education in Ireland.”

POLAND

Poland criticised over stranded migrants after seventh death at border, The Guardian, 15 October 2021

“Identity documents suggest latest person to die was 24-year-old Syrian who arrived in Belarus last month.”

TURKEY

EU looks to boost Syrian businesses in Turkey, Al-Monitor, 19 October 2021

“Around 4 million Syrian refugees currently live in Turkey Under Temporary Protection, and many of them work illegally in Turkish factories while the EU tries to support small businesses established by Syrian refugees.”

 

SWITZERLAND

Credit Suisse fined £350m over Mozambique ‘tuna bonds’ loan scandal, The Guardian, 20 October 2021, The Guardian, 19 October 2021

“Bank also pleads guilty to wire fraud and forgives hundred of millions of dollars of debt owed by country.”

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