Jul 27, 2020
The Racist History of Surveillance Tech
Play • 23 min

Facial recognition tech has been critiqued for being inaccurate for a while now. But its problems became pretty clear last month, when the New York Times reported a story about a Black man named Robert Williams who was identified incorrectly as a suspect in a crime. In this episode, WIRED Senior Staff Writer Sidney Fussell, who covers surveillance technology, traces racialized surveillance tech to its origins, as far back as slavery and early prison designs. He draws parallels between the intentional, all-seeing design of the panopticon and the omni-present cameras that surround us today — and explains how these kinds of systems become so flawed in the first place. 

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