Berkman Klein Luncheon Series: A New Jim Code? (RSVP Required)
Featuring Ruha Benjamin on Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life
Harvard Law School, Wasserstein Hall
Milstein East C (Room 2036, Second Floor)
Cambridge, MA 02138
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, Ruha Benjamin presents 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. Ruha 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 delves 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 the audience to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.