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Coded Bias | Independent Lens

Joy Buolamwini with facial recognition software analyzing her face, overlaying it in what looks like white mask and paths of red dots with text that reads, "FACE DETECTED"
Courtesy of Steve Acevedo
MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini in Coded Bias.

Mon. Mar. 22 at 10pm on WKAR-HD 23.1 & STREAMING | Join the fight to expose threats to civil liberties posed by our new data-driven, automated world.When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers most facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces or women with accuracy, she embarks on an investigation that uncovers widespread bias lurking in the algorithms that shape the technology powering our lives.

In an increasingly data-driven, automated world, the question of how to protect individuals’ civil liberties in the face of artificial intelligence looms larger by the day. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Shalini Kantayya, Coded Bias follows MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini, along with data scientists, mathematicians and watchdog groups from different parts of the world, as they fight to expose the discrimination within the facial recognition algorithms now prevalent across all spheres of daily life.

Coded Bias documents the dramatic journey that follows, from discovery to exposure to activism, as Buolamwini goes public with her findings and undertakes an effort to create a movement toward accountability and transparency, even testifying before Congress to push for the first-ever legislation governing facial recognition in the United States.

Around the world, artificial intelligence has already permeated every facet of public and private life—automating decisions about who gets hired, who gets health insurance and how long a prison term should be—theoretically casting analyses and insights that are free from human prejudice. In addition to following Buolamwini’s journey, Kantayya also goes to London, where police are piloting the use of facial recognition technology; Houston, Texas, where teachers are evaluated via algorithms; and Hangzhou, China, which is quickly becoming a model for city-wide surveillance. In each of these places, she profiles data scientists, mathematicians, ethicists and everyday individuals impacted by these disruptive technologies who are fighting to shed light on the impact of bias in A.I. on civil rights and democracy and to call for greater accountability.

Watch the special at video.wkar.org during or after the premiere date.

Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 PM. The acclaimed series, with Lois Vossen as executive producer, features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by ITVS, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS, Acton Family Giving, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

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