AI, Ethics, and Geoethics (CS 5970)

Module 7: Technological Benevolence


  • (30 min) Read the chapter (Note, it is a lot shorter than the previous chapter!)
  • (3 min) Short video
  • (15-30 min) Discussion on slack
  • (5 min) grading declaration


Read Chapter 4 “Technological Benevolence: Do Fixes Fix Us?” in the Race After Technology book.  While you read, pick out some favorite quotes to discuss.  There is a lot of great material in this chapter! 

I have 1 very short video clip that was discussed in the chapter linked below.

Tech Crunch

This is a short video clip from Tech Crunch that was discussed in the chapter.  For some reason, it won’t show as a preview here like all the other video clips! It is short and silly.


This discussion will happen in the #race-after-technology channel. Remember to use threads so that we can keep track of the conversation more easily.

I put some quotes from the chapter below to get you thinking about what you learned from this chapter.  Some of these quotes are provocative and would make good discussion material!  Please share your thoughts about what you learned, pick a favorite quote (or several, as I did!) from the chapter and let’s discuss.  

  • “An alternative to incarceration must recognize the full humanity and rights of people …” (page 138, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “These interventions explicitly aim at addressing bias of different kinds, but some of them can still end up reinforcing the New Jim Code .” (page 140, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “Instead the question is how to code a machine that can vacuum up all the beauty and ugliness from humanity, yet remain without prejudice …” (page 140, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “…even after programmers edited the algorithm to make it remain ‘gender neutral’ to these obvious words, Amazon worried that ‘the machines would devise other ways of sorting candidates that proved discriminatory.” (page 141, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “The danger of the New Jim Code impartiality is the neglect of ongoing inequity perpetuated by colorblind designs. … Algorithmic neutrality reproduces algorithmically sustained discrimination.” (page 143, Chapter 4, Race After Technology) 
  • “The broader point is that racialized zip codes are the output of Jim Crow policies and the input of New Jim Code practices.” (page 146, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “The pleasure of devouring difference … masks power differentials and dampens the prospects for concrete political action that might lead to a more lasting social transformation.  It exemplifies a kind of racial fix(ation) in which those feasting at the table of cultural diversity assume that their own pleasure is shared with those who are being consumed.” (page 148, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “…if people do not truly have the choice to wiggle free of the suffocating embrace of techno-benevolence without repercussions, that is a sign of fixity – an innovation that constrains.” (page 151, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “…the data-driven path we are current on – paved with the heartwarming rhetoric of openness, sharing and connectivity – actually undermines civic values and circumvents checks and balances.” (page 152, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “If our choices are so narrowly defined, are they ‘choices’ after all?” (page 152, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “The medical means justify the social ends, we are led to believe.  But too often the means are the end.  New Jim Code fixes are a permanent placeholder for bolder change.” (page 156, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)
  • “By making the duplicity and multiplicity of racial fixes visible, those who genuinely seek social justice can avoid falling under the spell of techno-benevolence…and should also tackle the many discriminatory designs that codify the value gap between Black and White by automating racial habits in digital systems.” (page 157, Chapter 4, Race After Technology)


  • OU students: After you have done your reading and engaged actively in discussion, complete the grading declaration titled “Module 7: Technological Benevolence”