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Dean's Lecture on Information + Society: Safiya Noble

2023, Media + Information, Equity + Justice

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

The landscape of information is rapidly shifting as new imperatives and demands push to the fore increasing investment in digital technologies. Yet, critical information scholars continue to demonstrate how digital technology and its narratives are shaped by and infused with values that are not impartial. Technologies consist of a set of social practices, situated within the dynamics of race, gender, class, and politics, and in the service of something — a position, a profit motive, a means to an end.

In this talk, Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble discussed her book, Algorithms of Oppression, and delved into issues ranging from marginalization and misrepresentation in commercial information platforms like Google search, to the profound power struggles that violate civil, human, and collective rights through AI and machine learning projects.

Wed, 15 Nov 2023

In-Person and Online Event

SFU Segal Graduate School of Business (Rooms 1200-1500)

500 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1W6

Closed captioning in English will be available at this event for online attendees. Please register to receive a link for the online event.

Speaker and Moderator

Dr. Safiya Noble is a 2021 MacArthur Fellow, a recipient of the inaugural NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award, and author of the highly acclaimed book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press). She is an internet studies scholar and Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she serves as the Faculty Director of the Center on Race & Digital Justice and as the Co-Director of the Minderoo Initiative on Tech & Power at the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2).

 Dr. Noble and her work have been featured in Time, The Guardian, the BBC, CNN International, Wired, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, among many others. Her talks and research focus on the ways that digital media impacts our lives and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology.

The SFU community can read Safiya Noble's books by borrowing them from SFU Library. Her books can also be found at public libraries and local independent bookstores. For more information on this Speaker, please visit Pande Lecture Management.

Stephanie Dick will be moderating this event. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. She is a historian of science by training who focuses on the history of mathematics, computing, and artificial intelligence in particular. Her first book project, Making Up Minds, explores early attempts to reproduce human mathematical intelligence in computers and Stephanie tells this as a story about men who looked at computers and saw themselves – and the many histories that made that confounding recognition possible. In her second project, she is exploring the development and implementation of early law enforcement databanks in the 1960s, especially the New York State Identification and Intelligence System. She is now embarking on a large-scale collaborative research program called “Ritual and Algorithm” that explores entanglements between mathematical, psychological, and spiritual theories of the human mind in the 20th century.

Stephanie is co-editor, with Janet Abbate, of Abstractions and Embodiments: New Histories of Computing and Society, published with Johns Hopkins University Press in 2022. She is a co-investigator on Wendy Chun’s Data Fluencies Mellon Grant at the Digital Democracies Institute, and co-edits the “Mining the Past” column at the Harvard Data Science Review. She received her PhD in History of Science from Harvard University, and prior to joining the faculty at SFU, Stephanie was an Assistant Professor in History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and she was a Junior Fellow with the Harvard Society of Fellows.  

Event Partners

Thank you to the Thakore Learning and Events Endowment, whose generous funding have sponsored this event.

Safety and Accessibility

In-Person Accessibility

The Segal Graduate School of Business is located at 500 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1W6. The building is a brief walk from both the Granville and Waterfront Skytrain stations, along with numerous bus stops. Plan your trip with TransLink’s Trip Planner.

Limited bike racks are available out front, with others close by. Nearby paid parking is available at 443 Seymour St. Public parking is available at many locations near the Segal Building. Street parking is free after 10 p.m. The closest parking lot is at 400 West Cordova Street.

All floors and washrooms within SFU Segal are wheelchair accessible. The Segal building has all-gender washrooms on the main floor, SB 1540& SB 1640.

Community guidelines

Our community guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of all guest speakers and event participants, and to foster honest, socially accountable dialogue at our events. Thank you for respecting these guidelines!

  • Above all, there will be zero tolerance for those who promote violence or discrimination against others on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, or disability. Anyone who incites harm towards other participants (whether through chat, video, audio or otherwise) will be removed at the discretion of our technical team and moderator.
  • Don’t assume pronouns/gender/knowledge based on someone’s name or appearance. Please refer to people using the usernames and/or pronouns they provide.
  • Take space, make space: share your perspective, and make space for other voices to be heard too. Recognize that we are all here to learn.