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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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University of Toronto




Algorithms are proliferating in criminal legal structures. The predictions produced by these algorithms inform life-altering decisions around surveillance and incarceration. Their continued use poses a challenge to ongoing racial justice efforts. Contesting how algorithms of today maintain the racial status quo requires a fundamental rethinking of the algorithm project. This essay explores how Afrofuturism can facilitate such a rethinking. It imagines how applying an Afrofuturist paradigm to the adoption, construction, implementation, and oversight of algorithms could radically change the kind of algorithms developed and the purposes for which they are developed. Tapping into this potential offers the chance for members of marginalized communities to subversively use algorithms to challenge, contest, and potentially reform or dismantle and reconstitute the systems in which they are used.

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