Automation, Algorithms, and Bias, from Settler Colonialism through the Future of Auditing

April 16, 2021

12:30-4:00PM (Presentations on Zoom)


Sarah Montoya,  “Settler Colonial Bias in GIS”
Cathy O’Neil,  “What is the future of algorithmic auditing? Two different scenarios”
Ewa Plonowska Ziarek,  “Automation of Judgments and the Ends of Thinking”

Evviva Weinraub Lajoie

transparent space.

Biographies and Presentation Descriptions

Sarah Montoya is a Mexican-American settler on Tonvga and Payaya lands and a PhD candidate in UCLA’s Gender Studies Department. Her dissertation, "Electronic Empires and Digital Domains", examines representations and material histories of technological and computational development in the U.S. through the lens of settler colonial studies. Her work traces the relationship between settler colonial ontologies and spatial regimes, the creation and maintenance of information and communication infrastructures by the U.S. settler state, and the development of geographic information systems (see  In her presentation, she suggests that the development of information and communications infrastructures in the US are an outcome of settler colonial nation-building imperatives. For example, Google Earth recirculates settler colonial ideologies, as reflected in its GIS infrastructures, digital cartographic practices, and within the structure of code (KML) itself.

Sarah Montoya Photo.

Cathy O’Neil is a mathematician, data scientist, founder of the blog, and recipient of the Alice T. Schafer Prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics. Her books include Weapons of Math Destruction (which won the MAA's Euler Book Prize), On Being a Data Skeptic, and the co-authored Doing Data Science: Straight Talk from the Frontline.  She was the Director of the Lede Program in Data Practices at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's Tow Center and was employed as a Data Science Consultant at Johnson Research Labs. Mathbabe begins with the statement that Cathy O’Neil "hopes to someday have a better answer to the question, 'what can a non-academic mathematician do that makes the world a better place?'" In her presentation, she will present the case for and against algorithmic auditing and say what she is worried about for the field, even as she is also working inside the field.

Photo of Cathy O'Neil.

Ewa Plonowska Ziarek is Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature at UB, a Senior Research Fellow of Philosophy at Western Sydney University, and Visiting Faculty in the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, University of Maine. Most recently she co-authored the book Arendt, Natality and Biopolitics: Towards Democratic Plurality and Reproductive Justice (2019), which received the Book Prize of Symposium: Canadian Journal for Continental Philosophy. Her other books include Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism; An Ethics of Dissensus: Feminism, Postmodernity, and the Politics of Radical Democracy; The Rhetoric of Failure: Deconstruction of Skepticism, Reinvention of Modernism; and several co-edited volumes. Her presentation explores harms to participatory democracy represented by the increasing role of  algorithmic governance in public sphere and legal institutions. She asks if recent proposals for “participatory” algorithmic decision making are feasible or desirable.

Photo of Ewa Plonowska Ziarek.

Evviva Weinraub Lajoie is Vice Provost of UB Libraries, President of the Library and Information Technology Association, and co-director of the Avalon project.

Photo of Evviva Weinraub Lajoie.