NYU professor Meredith Broussard to discuss bias in technology, March 27

Share or print this article
Photo of Meredith Broussard with the cover of her book, "More than a Glitch."
Meredith Broussard, a data journalist and professor at NYU, will visit the UM-Flint campus to discuss her research into bias in technology, March 27.

Algorithms are contributing to life-changing decisions for people on a daily basis. From granting mortgages to critical health care diagnoses, the promise of such technology is that it helps professionals make fast, accurate decisions based purely on the data. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the data algorithms utilize are often inherently flawed. Facial recognition software fails to recognize darker skin tones, medical diagnostic programs are trained on narrow demographics and mortgage-approval algorithms are perpetuating discriminatory lending practices. These invisible processes have huge implications for equity and justice in today's world. 

Meredith Broussard, a data journalism professor at New York University and author whose work has been published in such outlets as the New York Times and Time Magazine, explores these topics and more in her book, "More than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech." Broussard will discuss her research and its implications, 5:30 p.m., March 27, at the Harding Mott University Center KIVA. The event is free and open to the public. 

Kim Saks

"I think people will find that what she talks about is extremely relevant to their day-to-day lives," said Kim Saks, assistant professor of political science and associate director of UM-Flint's Institute for Society and Technology. "She will give attendees not just food for thought, but also actionable items to take back to their communities to implement, whether contacting elected officials or advocating within their workplaces."

Broussard's visit is a natural fit for IST, which has a twofold mission: to support scholarly research into the social consequences of technological innovation; and to bring together students, faculty and community members concerned with technology's impact on society. While the institute is a new entity on campus – having been created earlier this academic year – it has already become a catalyst for some of the most crucial conversations of our time. In November, IST hosted Former Rep. Andy Levin and New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie for a moderated discussion on democracy, labor and the future of work.

UM-Flint is quickly becoming a thought leader in the realm of equity and access in technology as evidenced by its widely popular, free and online Generative AI Prompt Literacy course. Earlier this month, the university hosted the "Frances Willson Thompson Critical Issues Conference: Generative AI in Education," which brought together K-12 and postsecondary educators and students to critically consider the profound impact of generative AI on education and society.

"I think people are generally skeptical about new technologies, but they're not quite sure why sometimes. Broussard's book and talk will help individuals identify what is and isn't worth skepticism and further investigation," said Saks. "It's good to be skeptical and have a keen eye on certain issues, but you also don't want to live in fear of everything."

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception featuring refreshments in the University Center lobby, with Broussard's talk commencing at 6 p.m. in the KIVA. The event is free and open to the public with no RSVP required. 

More information about IST can be found on the institute's webpage.

Logan McGrady is the marketing & digital communication manager for the Office of Marketing and Communication.