How AI is fueling racism in Brazil

In the Brazilian state of Ceara, police departments rely on facial recognition systems to identify suspects. Earlier this year, a photo of African-American star Michael B. Jordan from the movie “Black Panther” appeared on police’s wanted list for the 2021 Christmas Eve mass shooting that killed five people , which drew a lot of criticism for the system . The police’s software failed to correctly distinguish black faces, resulting in the faces of Hollywood stars appearing on the list. Such cases are part of a growing but undetected trend in Brazil, according to Tarcízio Silva of the Mozilla Foundation. As politicians and society embrace digital technologies, from artificial intelligence to facial recognition, the consequences of inherent bias against non-white groups are becoming more visible and more damaging. The problem is particularly acute in Brazil, which until recently was widely regarded as a racially diverse society without discrimination, a so-called “racial democracy”. But for years, anti-racism activists have argued that institutional racism also suppresses black people in Brazil. The result is that blacks in Brazil endure higher poverty rates and more police brutality.

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