Virtual Event | Mossman Lecture - Race to the Future? Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology & Society



The Mossman Endowment of the Friends of McGill University presents the D. Lorne Gales Lecture in the History of Science. This year's lecture entitled "Race to the Future? Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology & Society" will be given by Professor Ruha Benjamin.

About the Lecture: 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 explores a range of discriminatory designs that encode inequity -- what she terms the “New Jim Code.” 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 historically and sociologically-informed skepticism. It 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. 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 an Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University where she studies the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine, race and citizenship, knowledge and power. She is also the founder of the IDA B. WELLS Just Data Lab, and a Faculty Associate in the Center for Information Technology Policy, Program on History of Science, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Program on Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Department of Sociology. She serves on the Executive Committees for the Program in Global Health and Health Policy and Center for Digital Humanities and is the author of the award-winning book Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code.

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The Friends of McGill University Inc. is a US corporation incorporated in 1945. It provides grants for charitable, scientific, educational and literary activities, including providing scholarships to enable students from the US to enter McGill University.

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