Author Archives: Melinda Byam

6/16 – Coded Bias Documentary

From this week’s readings on biopolitics, data colonialism, and biometric surveillance and tracking, I immediately thought of the documentary that came out on Netflix last year, “Coded Bias.” The documentary exposes how human interaction with technology (data) has taught technology (data) the same biases that are found in our society. The documentary focuses on facial recognition technology or biometric identity tracking, and the biases that are built into the use and accuracy of the algorithms used in this type of tracking or surveillance. I have posted the trailer below, but if you have Netflix I highly suggest you watch the full piece. At one point in the documentary, the discuss the William Gibson quote, “the future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Whereas some people use this quote to imply that people in power, people with money are living in a future that the rest of us are trying to catch up to, in the documentary they argue that it is minority groups and the oppressed that are living in this future (the Orwellian Big Brother future).  They (we) are the ones being hyper-tracked, where power is being wielded through data science.  People in power, people with money, are being elevated with these advances in technology, while the other groups are being punished through its use.  It is also a catch-22 that we are placed in (and that we are placing ourselves in), in order to fully participate in society, you have to allow some amount of data to be collected about you.  Working hard to not let data be collected about you, also means that the data that is “teaching” technology is also only coming from a select group of people.