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Bias in Search Engines And Algorithms

A critical analysis of the explicit and implicit biases present in various search engines, databases, and algorithms that people regularly interact with in their daily lives

Sanford Berman

Berman is best known for pioneering the movement dedicated to challenging the biases, gaps, and anachronisms present in the Library of Congress' subject headings (LCSH) — the classification system used by most libraries to assign subject headings, call numbers, and metadata to their books. He worked as a librarian for several public libraries and academic libraries around the world for over 25 years until he retired in 1999 due to an involuntary reassignment resulting from clashes with library administration. In 1971, he published a book titled "Prejudiced and Antipathies: A Tract on the LC Subject Heads Concerning People" that revealed the inadequacies and prejudices present in the LCSH.

Berman suggested 225 changes to the Library of Congress over his career; 88 have changed exactly as he suggested, 54 have partially changed as he suggested, and 80 remain unchanged. 

Safiya Umoja Noble

Dr. Noble is an Associate Professor at UCLA, and is a visiting faculty member to the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication. Her novel "Algorithms of Oppression" is one of the most important books about algorithmic bias today. It was thanks to her writing that Google changed the search results that come up when someone types in "black girls." In 2019, she will join the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford as a Senior Research Fellow.