CMCI Distinguished Speaker Series: Ruha Benjamin

From Artificial Intelligence to Collective Wisdom:

Who Gets to Design the Future? 

4:30 p.m. - Reception

5 p.m. - Presentation

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, technology has the potential to hide, speed, and 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. This presentation takes us into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements, and provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with historical and sociological insight. She will also consider how race itself is a tool designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice and discuss how technology can be used toward liberatory ends. In doing so, Ruha challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

Ruha Benjamin is the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, and author of the award-winning book Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, among many other publications. Her work investigates the social dimensions of science, medicine, and technology with a focus on the relationship between innovation and inequity, health and justice, knowledge and power. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Marguerite Casey Foundation Freedom Scholar Award and the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton. Her most recent book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want, winner of the 2023 Stowe Prize, was born out of the twin plagues of COVID-19 and police violence and offers a practical and principled approach to transforming our communities and helping us build a more just and joyful world. Ruha’s forthcoming book Imagination: A Manifesto will be released in February 2024.

Join us for the inaugural event of CMCI’s Distinguished Speaker Series and the Center for Race, Media and Technology.

Wednesday, March 6 at 4:30pm

Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE), Chancellor's Hall and Auditorium