An article by Tyler Huckabee in Relevant Magazine starts with the subheading: “A recent study suggests humanity’s old issues with racial bias won’t just disappear with new technology. It’s easy to start fretting about the coming robo-takeover and all its attendant Terminator and I, Robot-esque predictions about how artificial intelligence is coming for humanity. But for the moment, the real concerns about new technology aren’t so different from the old concerns: systemic bias against people of color.“
Researchers recognize that people of color have a 5 percent greater chance of being struck by a self-driving car than a white person, but the problem is in the technology not in the latent racism of the developers. To be fair, Huckabee does toss in the caveat that the designers of self-driving cars aren’t meaning to be racist, but “their own implicit biases work their way into the algorithms they create.” What exactly is the issue with the algorithms? The cars have more trouble distinguishing dark objects against the background, especially at night, than lighter objects. No shit Sherlock, as duffers like me used to say when stating the obvious to the oblivious. This is “systemic bias against people of color?” That it’s harder for an inanimate sensor to see something dark against a dark background than something lighter against a dark background??? Michael Jackson must have realized that a long time ago.
Once you try to extend an issue into all kinds of irrelevant situations, like baptizing a matter of physics with the language of racial grievance, you end up trivializing the issue. In more direct language, when you start talking systemic bias against people of color when sensors are limited by laws of physics, you begin to lose people who would have been sympathetic to the problem. That may be the crux of why people like me simply turn off my attention when I see or hear claims of racism: Oversaturation, the boy who cried wolf syndrome. If you want to say, “aha, you’re a racist looking for an excuse to ignore racism”, go ahead. Nothing I have ever said or done meets any definition of racism, but just to be sure, you go ahead and define racism.
Here are some common definitions: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior; the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. The operant phrase is based on the belief. Belief is the operant word. How do you know what someone else believes, short of their stating beliefs in words, oral or written? You don’t! Race grievance hustlers, including the Mediated Reality establishment, would no doubt say they can infer what you believe by your actions and words they deem racist, but it’s their inference, not proof of anything.
Now that self driving cars are racist, what isn’t? Inference was never so easy!