Creating a Digital Poorhouse: Technology, Human Rights, and Economic Inequality

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When we hear the phrase "disruptive technologies," we often think of tools upending the status quo - companies like Uber or Airbnb or innovations like artificial intelligence or driverless cars. However, the algorithms and software architecture that powers these innovations are already in use every day - often with devastating consequences.

Today, decision-making for of social service and safety net programs - everything from Medicaid to food stamps, housing and rental assistance to child welfare - is controlled not by human beings, but by models programed to follow a pre-determined set of criteria. Proponents argue this system is more efficient, saving caseworkers thousands of hours of paperwork. However, what if these automated systems are actually a form of discrimination, working to perpetuate, rather than eliminate, the inequality they aim to address?

 

Guests: 

Virginia Eubanks, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Political Science, University at Albany, SUNY, and author, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor.

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