Sasheer Zamata’s ‘Full Frontal’ segment confronts racial bias in technology


Existing technology is racially biased, so there is a lot to be done before the future can be anything like “Black Panther’s” Wakanda.

That’s the sobering truth guest correspondent Sasheer Zamata learned on Wednesday’s episode of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” during a segment to commemorate the show designating March as Black Future Month.

Zamata sought out experts hoping to discuss how awesome the future was going to be for black people, but instead discovered that current technology trends were not at all promising.


“Technology often gets used in service of other people’s interest. Not in the service of black people and our future,” said author Safiya U. Noble.

This includes technology that is relied on for facial recognition, predictive policing, credit decisions, targeted ads and more.

“The systems that technology is embedded with are systems that are biased, ” said ReadySet Chief Executive Y-Vonne Hutchinson.

Basically, “because humans can have racial bias, our technology can have racial bias.” And the lack of diversity in those designing the tech and developing algorithms means their biases go unchecked.

So yes, technology can be as horrifying as we’ve seen on TV. But the situation is not completely hopeless.


“We have an opportunity to create the world that we want,” said Jessica O. Matthews, chief executive of Uncharted Power.

A key to achieving the more promising future as seen in Wakanda is Afrofuturism, or “a reimagining of the future with black people at the center.”

Check out the full segment above.

Twitter: @tracycbrown