The Algorithmic Justice League commends IBM’s decision to stop providing general purpose facial recognition technologies, and calls for next steps: systematic change requires resources. IBM should lead its industry peers, and each company should commit to provide at least one million dollars to support racial justice in the tech sector.

Yesterday, IBM put action behind written principles when they announced a decision to stop providing general purpose facial recognition and analysis technology. In the announcement, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna stated:

“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values.”

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re(Sisters) Unite. Photo: $han

The Algorithmic Justice League is an organization that combines art and research to illuminate the social implications and harms of artificial intelligence. Our mission is to raise public awareness about the impacts of A.I., equip advocates with empirical research to bolster campaigns, build the voice and choice of most impacted communities, and galvanize researchers, policymakers, and industry practitioners to mitigate A.I. bias and harms. More at

AJL Family,

We are holding space to grieve, to mourn, and we are also full of righteous anger. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, and Tony McDade are only the latest in what feels like an endless chain of police and vigilante violence against Black men, women, children, trans folks, and nonbinary people. …

Pressure on the neck,

protests in the streets,

people standing up,

people shouting down,

rest cannot be found

when the system pulls the trigger

then asks you to be bigger.

Peace will not abound when cries of pain meet tears of gas,

when civil demands for life meet rubber bullets and batons,

when a jog on the block ends your clock,

when bedtime becomes a date with death,

when the crowd watches your killing

because your darker hue is the cue

to dismiss your humanity.

It is time to kill the indifference that permits racism and brutality alongside monumental statements of freedom and justice for all. …

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Thank you Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and committee members for the opportunity to testify today.

I am an algorithmic bias researcher based at MIT. I’ve conducted studies showing some of the largest recorded gender and skin type biases in AI systems sold by companies including IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon.

You’ve probably heard facial recognition and related technologies have some flaws.

In one test I ran, Amazon Rekognition even failed on the face of Oprah Winfrey, labeling her male.

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TIME Magazine Op-ed

Personally, I’ve had to resort to literally wearing a white mask to have my face detected by some of this technology.

Coding in whiteface is the last thing I expected to be doing at an American epicenter for innovation. …

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Today my op-ed on racial and gender bias in facial analysis and recognition technology was published by TIME magazine. …

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Update: “ Twenty-six researchers, including Yoshua Bengio, a recent winner of the Turing Award, the industry’s highest honor, called for Amazon to stop selling its Rekognition AI service to police departments in a post on Wednesday. Bengio was joined by Anima Anandkumar, a former principal scientist at Amazon’s cloud division, and staffers from Google, Microsoft Corp., Facebook Inc. and several universities.

The group defended the work of two other AI researchers who found Amazon’s software had much higher error rates when predicting the gender of darker-skinned women in images, compared with lighter-skinned men. …

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Since publishing my MIT research findings on racial and gender bias in facial analysis technology sold by IBM, Microsoft, and Megvii (Face++), technology executives, startup founders, and senior scientists have solicited my help in improving their products and research projects.

I have intentionally focused my efforts on using conclusive research findings to call out issues with facial analysis technology instead of working on short- term technical patches that do not mitigate potential abuses. …

As American Thanksgiving approaches, I have much to be grateful for. The week of November 11 has been especially kind to me. I was named as a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree on the Enterprise Technology list. As part of their #PublistInterestTech campaign, Ford Foundation released a video highlighting my MIT thesis findings on gender and racial bias in facial analysis technology from IBM, Microsoft, and Face++. I also had the honor of sharing my research findings and recommendations to the Federal Trade Commission during their 7th hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.

To end the week, I organized an outing for members of the Center for Civic Media (my academic home) and the Comparative Media Studies program, to view the gallery debut of “AI, Ain’t I A Woman?”. The piece is on display at the Cooper Gallery as part of the “Nine Moments for Now” exhibition curated by Dell Hamilton. …

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Soledad O’Brien interviews Joy Buolamwini asking about police use of Amazon Rekognition. View full interview on Matter of Fact TV —


Reuters broke the story. Sources shared that Amazon built a hiring tool with significant bias against women. If the word “women’s” and certain women’s colleges appeared in a candidate’s resume, they were ranked lower. Here was a case of “FML” — Failed Machine Learning — that had the potential to negatively influence job prospects for women while breaking anti-discrimination laws. …

Who would have thought research on algorithmic bias and coding in a white mask would land me an invitation to share my work at AFROPUNK —a colorful celebration of music, art, and flyness? In this article you will find glimpses of the event provided by talented media makers $han and Aubry Threlkeld and my recollections of highlights from the AFROPUNK Solution Sessions where I shared my spoken word poem “AI, Ain’t I A Woman?”.

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Joy Buolamwini Presenting “AI, Ain’t I A Woman?” at AFROPUNK | Credit: $han


“AFROPUNK is an influential community of young, gifted people of all backgrounds who speak through music, art, film, comedy, fashion and more. Originating with the 2003 documentary that highlighted a Black presence in the American punk scene, it is a platform for the alternative and experimental. …


Joy Buolamwini

Founder Algorithmic Justice League. | | Telling stories that make daughters of diasporas dream and sons of privilege pause

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