Times are changing, that’s for sure. The technological age has undoubtedly shaped the way in which we now live our lives. While social media has enabled us to forge new connections, launch businesses, speak our minds at the click of a button and have our thoughts broadcast to expansive audiences, the digital era has certainly made humans more vulnerable. With the advent of robotics and biometric systems determining our every move, the line between progressiveness and privacy could not be any more blurred.
Coded Bias is an eye-opening documentary by director Shalini Kantayya. It follows the journey of MIT Media Lab graduate Joy Buolamwini who recalls her frustration at how face-recognition software was able to detect her classmates’ lighter features but failed to recognise hers until she wore a white mask. The results compelled the now computer scientist to investigate gender and racial prejudices in other artificial intelligence apparatuses. Her findings incited a campaign that would eventually push many US cities – namely Boston and San Francisco – to ban face-recognition after realising the unethical nature of the technology.
The documentary analyses the surveillance systems of different countries around the world, showing how their citizens have reacted to the notion of confidentiality breaches. It goes on to explore the downside of algorithms, especially when it comes to the screening of job applications. The film illustrates the repercussions that bad programming can have. For instance, it can cause gender discrimination by rejecting a pool of talented individuals who would have otherwise been rich assets for an enterprise.
Coded Bias delivers on its intended message, raising awareness about the growing invasiveness of technology. Kantayya’s project, coupled with Buolamwini’s research, encourages the public to hold those in charge accountable for any infringement on their lives and civil liberties.
Coded Bias is released digitally on demand on 29th January 2021.
Watch the trailer for Coded Bias here: