AI, Ethics, and Geoethics (CS 5970)

Module 2: Race After Technology Introduction


  • (45-90 min) Read the chapter
  • (30-60 min) Discussion on slack
  • (5 min) Grading declaration


Read the introduction to Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin.  For OU students, there is a physical copy of the available in the Bizzell Library and potentially one in the Youngblood Library.  You can login to the OU libraries to see the status of the copies.  Unfortunately there is no electronic copy available for the library, so you either need to share the library copy or purchase it online (Dr McGovern read the kindle version).

Note the introduction is a full-sized chapter, despite being named introduction.  We are going to read other chapters on other weeks!  This week focuses on the introduction of two of our books because I want you to see the broad impacts of unethical uses of AI and automation on society.  Also, if you enjoy her work, there are a bunch of her talks online on YouTube. I saw her speak in Summer 2020 and she is amazing!


This discussion will happen in the #race-after-technology channel

As with all assignments, we are going to have an active discussion on slack!  Make sure you follow all the classroom rules of conduct and always be respectful, even if you disagree.

If we were in a room together, the conversation would be free-flowing.  I want our conversation to be in that same spirit.  I have seeded the discussion with a few questions of my own but I want you to add your own questions and thoughts to the discussion!  Remember to use threading to make it easier to keep track of what is happening in the discussion.

The following are the initial questions.  In the Coded Bias discussion, I seeded the discussion in slack.  Here, feel free to use some of these if they are not already created by a fellow student.  And please add your own!

  • My week 1 activity of the name game came from the opening of this book.  Does her discussion make you see the initial introductions in a different light?  Did you think of your name as just “normal” and perhaps now see it differently?
  • Reflect on this quote: “To be unmarked by race allows you to reap the benefits by escape responsibility for your role in an unjust system.” (page 4, Introduction, Race After Technology)
  • Reflect on her definition of “the New Jim Code: the employment of new technologies that reflect and reproduce existing inequalities but that are promoted and perceived as more objective or progressive than the discriminatory systems of a previous era.” (page 5, Introduction, Race After Technology)
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of moving slower (instead of “move fast and break things”, page 12, Introduction, Race After Technology)
  • How has niche marketing and tailoring of what you see changed your buying habits?  What about your opinions?
  • “What do ‘free will’ and ‘autonomy’ mean in a world in which algorithms are tracking, predicting, and persuading us at every turn?” (page 30, Introduction, Race After Technology)
  • How has racism been part of the input of technology that you have used or even potentially created?  (page 40, Introduction, Race After Technology)


  • OU students: After you have engaged in a lively discussion with your fellow students, complete the canvas declaration titled “Module 2: Race After Technology discussion”