Under constant surveillance

by Fiona Joy Green

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Yikes! Reading The Guardian’s article “Amazon’s Ring is the largest civilian surveillance network the US has ever seen” by Lauren Bridges, solidified my long standing suspicion that we are increasingly under surveillance and that law enforcement agencies will be able to use personal video recordings without warrants. It comes on the heels of watching the 2020 documentary CODED BIAS, directed by Shalini Kantayya, exploring how AI, machine learning, facial recognition and algorithms are susceptible to and perpetuate socioeconomic, gender-based, and racial bias. A “poet of code,” M.I.T. Media Lab computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, made the startling discovery that some algorithms could not detect dark-skinned faces or classify women with accuracy, proving that the very machine-learning algorithms intended to avoid prejudice are only as unbiased as the humans and historical data programming them.

Both Bridges article and Kantayya’s documentary highlight how these technologies are a threat to civil liberty. Both confirm for me, again, that technologies intended to assist in ensuring the safety and privacy of citizens often put those very folx at risk.

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