The New Jim Code?: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life

Lecture | October 17 | 3-5:30 p.m. | Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium

 Dr. Ruha Benjamin, Princeton University

 Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, CITRIS Policy Lab, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society CSTMS

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, technology has the potential to hide, speed, and even deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racist practices of a previous era. In this talk, I present the concept of the “New Jim Code” to explore a range of discriminatory designs that encode inequity: by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies, by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions, or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite.

We will also consider how race itself is a kind of tool designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice and discuss how technology is and can be used toward liberatory ends. This presentation takes us into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements, and provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism. In doing so, it challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

 400years@berkeley.edu, 510-643-9724