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Bias in Search Engines And Algorithms: People to Follow

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.

Meredith Farkas

Farkas is one of the many librarians leading the movement for "critical librarianship" — an initiative for librarians to incorporate social justice into every aspect of their work by uplifting marginalized voices, educating library patrons on bias, and teaching them the critical thinking skills they need to navigate the digital age. Work done in this field includes library guides written about Black Live Matters and improving library discovery systems among others things.

The key theme behind this movement is that neutrality in librarianship is not only impossible to achieve, but harmful to oppressed groups. "In a world that is fundamentally unequal, neutrality upholds inequality and represents indifference to the marginalization of members of our community" (Farkas, 2017). Neutrality is complacency and complacency isn't good enough.  

Eric Goldman

Dr. Goldman is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. He has written numerous articles about Internet ethics, intellectual property laws, and marketing/advertising laws.

His research not only focuses on the issues but possible solutions as well.

Joy Buolamwini

Joy Buolamwini is a spoken word poet who uses art and research to reveal the social implications of artificial intelligence. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League to fight the coded gaze - a term she uses to refer to algorithmic bias in facial recognition software. At the MIT Media Lab, she pioneered techniques that are pushing for more transparency in facial analysis technology globally. She established the Safe Face Pledge in partnership with the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law to prevent abuse of facial analysis technology.

Sanjiv Das

Dr. Das is he William and Janice Terry Professor of Finance at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business. He has written articles and given numerous presentations about algorithmic bias, data science, and finance.