This installment of TMI Briefs features a conversation with New York Times Best-Selling Author and UCLA Associate Professor, Dr. Safiya Noble. Safiya sat down with TMI Research and Operations Associate, Will Searcy, to discuss her book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.  


At their most basic, algorithms are just instructions that are given to a computer to perform specific tasks. They can be very simple or incredibly complex. Working from that simple definition, Will and Safiya tackle the ubiquitous nature of algorithms, how biases become intertwined in algorithms and perpetuate discrimination, and how consumers can begin to recognize algorithms of oppression. 

To say that an algorithm is just math and that it doesn't live in a social context is almost to say that human beings are purely cells or molecules...We are more than just cells and algorithms are more than just math.

Further Readings

  • Safiya Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism 

  • Ruha Benjamin, Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code 

  • Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

  • Cathy O’Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

  • Sarah Roberts, Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media 

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan,  Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy


Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.


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