This is an excellent and illuminating documentary of the state of algorithmic bias.
If you’ve read recent books like Algorithms of Oppression and Race After Technology – you probably won’t find anything new. But it is nice seeing academics in their natural habitats. It really helps to personalise the problems by placing them in social context.
Some of the arguments are simplified a little for a Netflix audience. That’s understandable – they’re trying to change minds in 90 minutes rather than provide a thoroughly robust argument for a thesis. There’s a little too much “Documentary Filler” – panning shots of universities, and people wandering through bookshops – but that’s the price you pay for a mainstream documentary. And, again, goes to the theme that these are real issues affecting – and discussed by – real people.
There’s a weird little undercurrent of Sinophobia in some of the comments. While there’s a brief discussion of China’s “Social Credit” system, it is a slightly underdeveloped and feels like it is part of a different documentary.
This could easily have been a multi-part series, with a deeper dive on each issue. So think of it as a teaser trailer for reading some excellent books.
The movie is now streaming on Netflix but – be warned – watching it will irrevocably alter what the algorithm recommends in the future…