More than a Glitch

Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech

Paperback
$23.95 US
On sale Apr 02, 2024 | 248 Pages | 978-0-262-54832-8
When technology reinforces inequality, it's not just a glitch—it's a signal that we need to redesign our systems to create a more equitable world.

The word “glitch” implies an incidental error, as easy to patch up as it is to identify. But what if racism, sexism, and ableism aren't just bugs in mostly functional machinery—what if they're coded into the system itself? In the vein of heavy hitters such as Safiya Umoja Noble, Cathy O'Neil, and Ruha Benjamin, Meredith Broussard demonstrates in More Than a Glitch how neutrality in tech is a myth and why algorithms need to be held accountable.

Broussard, a data scientist and one of the few Black female researchers in artificial intelligence, masterfully synthesizes concepts from computer science and sociology. She explores a range of examples: from facial recognition technology trained only to recognize lighter skin tones, to mortgage-approval algorithms that encourage discriminatory lending, to the dangerous feedback loops that arise when medical diagnostic algorithms are trained on insufficiently diverse data. Even when such technologies are designed with good intentions, Broussard shows, fallible humans develop programs that can result in devastating consequences.

Broussard argues that the solution isn't to make omnipresent tech more inclusive, but to root out the algorithms that target certain demographics as “other” to begin with. With sweeping implications for fields ranging from jurisprudence to medicine, the ground-breaking insights of More Than a Glitch are essential reading for anyone invested in building a more equitable future.
Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Understanding Machine Bias 11
3 Recognizing Bias in Facial Recognition 29
4 Machine Fairness and the Justice System 45
5 Real Students, Imaginary Grades 65
6 Ability and Technology 79
7 Gender Rights and Databases 103
8 Diagnosing Racism 117
9 An AI Told Me I Had Cancer 135
10 Creating Public Interest Technology 157
11 Potential Reboot 173
Acknowledgments 189
Notes 193
Bibliography 205
Index 223
  • FINALIST
    PROSE Award - Popular Science/Math
Meredith Broussard is Associate Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and Research Director at the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology. She is the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World (MIT Press). Her work has been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Atlantic, BBC, Wired, the Economist, and more. She appears in the 2020 documentary Coded Bias and serves on the advisory board for the Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies. More information at @merbroussard or meredithbroussard.com.

About

When technology reinforces inequality, it's not just a glitch—it's a signal that we need to redesign our systems to create a more equitable world.

The word “glitch” implies an incidental error, as easy to patch up as it is to identify. But what if racism, sexism, and ableism aren't just bugs in mostly functional machinery—what if they're coded into the system itself? In the vein of heavy hitters such as Safiya Umoja Noble, Cathy O'Neil, and Ruha Benjamin, Meredith Broussard demonstrates in More Than a Glitch how neutrality in tech is a myth and why algorithms need to be held accountable.

Broussard, a data scientist and one of the few Black female researchers in artificial intelligence, masterfully synthesizes concepts from computer science and sociology. She explores a range of examples: from facial recognition technology trained only to recognize lighter skin tones, to mortgage-approval algorithms that encourage discriminatory lending, to the dangerous feedback loops that arise when medical diagnostic algorithms are trained on insufficiently diverse data. Even when such technologies are designed with good intentions, Broussard shows, fallible humans develop programs that can result in devastating consequences.

Broussard argues that the solution isn't to make omnipresent tech more inclusive, but to root out the algorithms that target certain demographics as “other” to begin with. With sweeping implications for fields ranging from jurisprudence to medicine, the ground-breaking insights of More Than a Glitch are essential reading for anyone invested in building a more equitable future.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Understanding Machine Bias 11
3 Recognizing Bias in Facial Recognition 29
4 Machine Fairness and the Justice System 45
5 Real Students, Imaginary Grades 65
6 Ability and Technology 79
7 Gender Rights and Databases 103
8 Diagnosing Racism 117
9 An AI Told Me I Had Cancer 135
10 Creating Public Interest Technology 157
11 Potential Reboot 173
Acknowledgments 189
Notes 193
Bibliography 205
Index 223

Awards

  • FINALIST
    PROSE Award - Popular Science/Math

Author

Meredith Broussard is Associate Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and Research Director at the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology. She is the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World (MIT Press). Her work has been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Atlantic, BBC, Wired, the Economist, and more. She appears in the 2020 documentary Coded Bias and serves on the advisory board for the Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies. More information at @merbroussard or meredithbroussard.com.