Coded Bias: Unmasking the Abuses of Face Recognition Technologies in Society

Film screening and panel discussion with the director
Film poster for Coded Bias

Modern society sits at the intersection of two crucial questions: What does it mean when artificial intelligence increasingly governs our liberties? And what are the consequences for the people AI is biased against?  In the new documentary film Coded Bias, MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces and the faces of women, so she delves into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms.  As it turns out, artificial intelligence is not neutral, and often women of color are leading the charge to ensure our civil rights are protected.  The Algorithmic Justice League, co-founded by Joy, is creating a movement towards equitable and accountable AI.

Register at: https://webropol.com/s/codedbias

Prof. Nitin Sawhney leads a conversation with filmmaker Shalini Kantayya, to highlight the themes and issues emerging from the film, along with AI ethics experts Amber SinhaJenni Hakkarainen and Sid Rao.

The event will be held in conjunction with a week-long virtual screening of the film Coded Bias hosted by Aalto University from March 20-27, 2021. Please RSVP for this event and all registered attendees will receive online access to the virtual film screening.


  • Shalini Kantayya

Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya’s, Coded Bias, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. She directed the season finale of the National Geographic television series Breakthrough, Executive Produced by Ron Howard, broadcast globally in June 2017. Her debut, Catching the Sun, premiered at the LA Film Festival and was named a NY Times Critics’ Pick. Catching the Sun released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio, and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary.  Kantayya is a TED Fellow, a William J. Fulbright Scholar, and an Associate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. 
Website: http://shalinikantayya.net

  • Meredith Broussard

Data journalist Meredith Broussard is an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University, research director at the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology, and the author of “Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World.” She is featured in the film Coded Bias; her academic research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting and ethical AI, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. She is an affiliate faculty member at the Moore Sloan Data Science Environment at the NYU Center for Data Science, a 2019 Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, and her work has been supported by New America, the Institute of Museum & Library Services, and the Tow Center at Columbia Journalism School. Website: http://merbroussard.github.io 

  • Amber Sinha

Amber Sinhais the Executive Director of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) India. At CIS, Amber has worked across and led projects on privacy, digital identity, artificial intelligence and misinformation. Amber's research has been cited with appreciation by the Supreme Court of India. He is a member of the Steering Committee of ABOUT ML, an initiative to bring diverse range of perspectives to develop, test, and implement machine learning system documentation practices. His first book, The Networked Public, was released in 2019. Amber studied law and humanities at National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Website: https://ambersinha.com

  • Jenni Hakkarainen

Jenni Hakkarainen is a PhD candidate in law and digitalization at the University of Helsinki. She is also a member of the University of Helsinki Legal Tech Lab, a multidisciplinary research hub on law, technology and society. Jenni's current research focuses on algorithmic discrimination and access to justice, and the potential of collective legal protection in digital infrastructures. 

  • Sid Rao

Sid Rao is a public interest technologist. He is a researcher at Aalto University and Nokia-Bell Labs. He was a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow at European Digital Rights (EDRi) where he worked with policy makers and lobbyists from the Brussels bubble towards bringing practical understanding to European political debate around privacy, data protection, and surveillance. He collaborates regularly with various NGOs on internet freedom and digital rights topics.

  • Nitin Sawhney (Host)

Nitin Sawhney is a Professor of Practice in the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University. As a human-centered design researcher he examines the critical role of technology, civic media, and urban interventions in crisis and contested spaces.  He has co-directed two documentary films, Flying Paper, an award-winning film supported by National Geographic, about culture of kite-flying among children in Gaza despite the war, and Zona Intervenida, a performance-based documentary dealing with the historical memory of genocide in Guatemala.  At Aalto University, Nitin has embarked on a collaborative research project with THL on Reconstructing Crisis Narratives, supported by a 3-year grant from the Academy of Finland.
Website: https://nitinsawhney.org

Please register for the event here: https://webropol.com/ep/coded-bias

ColorofScienceis a university-wide initiative engaging critical perspectives from scientists of color and the indigenous, co-organized by Talayeh Aledavood, Andrea Botero, Karin Fröhlich, Caterina Soldano and Nitin Sawhney.

This event is co-organized with the new Crisis Interrogatives initiative at Aalto University and held in conjunction with the course Critical AI and Data Justice in Society, offered in the Department of Computer Science in spring 2021.

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