When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, she embarks on a journey to push for the first-ever U.S. legislation against bias in algorithms that impact us all.


Shalini Kantayya


Shalini Kantayya, Christopher Seward (story consultant)
1,807 ( 816)
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Joy Buolamwini ... Self - Ph.D. Candidate, MIT Media Lab
Meredith Broussard ... Self - Author, Artificial Unintelligence
Cathy O'Neil ... Self - Author, Weapons of Math Destruction (as Cathy O'Neil Ph.D.)
Silkie Carlo ... Self - Director, Big Brother Watch UK
Zeynep Tüfekçi ... Self - Author, Twitter and Tear Gas (as Zeynep Tufekci Ph.D.)
Amy Webb ... Self - Futurist / Author, The Big Nine
Tranae Moran ... Self - Brooklyn Tenant
Virginia Eubanks ... Self - Author, Automating Inequality (as Virginia Eubanks Ph.D.)
Icemae Downes ... Self - Brooklyn Tenant
Ravi Naik ... Self - UK Human Rights Lawyer
Deborah Raji ... Self - Research Fellow, Partnership on A.I.
Timnit Gebru ... Self - Technical Co-Lead, Ethical A.I. Team at Google (as Timnit Gebru Ph.D.)
Safiya Umoja Noble ... Self - Author, Algorithms of Oppression (as Safiya Umoja Noble Ph.D.)
Wolfie O'Neil ... Self - Cathy's Son
Kiri Soares ... Self - School Principal


When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, she embarks on a journey to push for the first-ever U.S. legislation against bias in algorithms that impact us all.

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Powerful Messages. Poor Execution.
5 April 2021 | by MeadtheManSee all my reviews

The general messages conveyed are powerful, and there's no denying that we urgently need to regulate a technology that has encroached into every facet of our lives - it's like letting people drive without introducing any traffic laws.

The execution of this documentary, however, is very underwhelming, to say the least. There are the usuals: catchy montages, TED-style interviews, news soundbites, and the most annoying of all - artificially created (pun intended) graphics of AI scanning data in a stereotypical digital font paired with silly sound effects which, unless the primary audience of this documentary is fifth graders, I don't understand why it's necessary to incessantly rehash them. And then there's the unimaginative 'robotic voice.' It's just puerile.

Maybe the producers are wary that people still won't get the danger of unregulated AI without these gimmicks. But I'd argue that people would be more alarmed to learn how AI has been infiltrating and affecting our lives in the least expected ways. If the documentary can clearly point out the potential harms as a consequence, I think people will naturally find the lack of regulation disturbing, no silly visuals and sound effects are needed. Sometimes I think they actually undermine the severity of potential danger at hand. For example, the scene where a teenager is mistakenly stopped by plainclothes police, instead of being accompanied with yet another piece of cheesy soundtrack meant to suggest danger, it would be so much more powerful if everything is just eerily silent.

And the interviews and info - yes, AI is like a black box even to the programmers, but can you explain it in layman's terms so that people get it? - could be a lot more insightful. Even some short Vox-style Youtube clips have explored these issues in greater depth.

The themes explored are a bit all over the place too. I get it this domain is relatively new, so the vocabulary and focus aren't that streamlined yet, still... Sometimes the documentary brings up issues of obvious biases, which is consistent with the title, but sometimes we don't even know what the problem is, it's simply an issue of things being completely nontransparent and/or unverified by a third party. The China parts are also a little disjointed from the rest of the documentary and the country itself is painted in broad strokes - it's as if we can't do good until we can identify the bad guy to feel good about ourselves.

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Release Date:

11 November 2020 (USA) See more »

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Coded Bias See more »


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Opening Weekend USA:

$10,236, 15 November 2020

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