Rationale: Technology has been defined as anything that extends human capability. Antiracist technology is designed to extend the capabilities of individuals and groups who seek to end racism.
Examples: Innovation needs include:
- Approaches to remove “algorithmic bias” in computer vision, facial recognition, and machine learning, and to create fair and reliable algorithms without such bias (e.g., applications in surveillance, healthcare, and criminal justice)
- Technology supporting community organization and action (e.g., for protest, group-defined initiatives).
- Website design to reduce racial profiling found in neighborhood/community web sites, or to promote access to mental health resources.
- Racially-biased biosensors/devices (e.g., pulse oximeter, PPG sensor, spirometer).
Current project, publicity: Racial Sensitivity Training for the Columbus Division of Police
Courses, Research, and Contact
Undergraduate/Graduate Student Course:
ECE 5570 Antiracist Technology
Class, Au22: T,W,Th,F from 3:00-3:55pm. PAES Rm A109
Instructor: Prof Kevin Passino, email@example.com
Course credits: 4 credit hours
Outline: This course integrates subjects in racism, social justice, antiracism, engineering, and technology to provide approaches to develop antiracist technologies, ones designed to help oppose racism. Topics to be covered include:
- Bias, race cognition
- Discrimination, privilege, diversity, equity, inclusion, intersectionality
- Systemic racism, systems theory, social justice
- Dynamics of diversity, equity, and inclusion; mathematical models and computational analysis, applications to organizational diversity and optimal diverse team formation
- Basics of classification and prediction in machine learning
- Algorithmic bias in facial recognition, recidivism prediction
- Big data for healthcare algorithms and policing, bias
- Mental health, engineering and community
Prerequisites: This course welcomes any engineering student who meets the following requirements: ENGR 1182 or 1282 or graduate engineering standing or permission of instructor.
Academic credit: The “ECE 5570” course number is used since it enables any student in the College of Engineering (Freshman-PhD) who meets the prerequisites to take it for credit. Assuming Departmental/Advisor approval, an Undergraduate Student would typically take this course as a “Technical Elective,” whereas a Graduate Student is likely to be able to fit it into their standard curricular requirements. This course is approved as a Technical Elective in ECE and CSE.
ECE curricular track:
"Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
There is a new "Domain" (concentration, area, track) in "Humans and Justice" in the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering that uses:
- ECE 5570 Antiracist Technology
- ECE 5050 Humanitarian Engineering
- A service-learning course.
to help meet ECE curricular requirements.
Other for-credit options: Undergraduate research, independent study, capstone design, and undergraduate honors thesis, combined BS-MS, MS/PhD advanced study.
Student from ECE 5570, Au21:
I feel really thankful to you and Ohio State University for providing such a precious and important lesson, which gave me a lot of thinking and insights. After taking this course, I realized that people of color have not only suffered so many tragedies in the past, but still experience systematic discrimination currently. I am angry that although the United States is so powerful in science and technology, it still cannot solve the discrimination and inequality experienced by people of color. I really like the Transformational and Utilitarian views you mentioned in the lecture. I think many engineers choose a Utilitarian objective, but I think this is acceptable. Everyone’s situation is unique. Earning money to maintain a life is the most basic need of everyone. What's more, the work that engineers are engaged in is to contribute to society. But I think that the social injustice of people of color has lasted for hundreds of years, and this society really needs transformational engineers to make some contributions urgently.
I am hoping if I can also make some contribution to the social injustice of people of color while at the graduate school. I believe that while an engineer makes a living, he can also make a certain contribution to the issue of racial inequality. And instead of earning a lot of money to pay for luxury goods, I think it is more valuable to invent or improve engineering technology so that people and communities that are treated unfairly can be significantly improved. And this kind of wealth is the most precious, because it brings the wealth of the entire society rather than personal enjoyment; and the happiness and honor that this wealth brings to people cannot be bought by money.
I'm currently in the graduate application stage. In my country, many peers apply for graduate school only because other people are also applying for graduate school. Everyone is in a state of competition. I was at a loss before because I don't know what my purpose was. But now from ECE 5570, I have found a direction that meets my inner expectations, which is to explore and improve technology that can change the unfair status quo of people of color. This state of affairs has lasted for hundreds of years in the United States and the world, it should not continue anymore. Everyone should be born and grow up with equal and respect. As an ECE student, I have the opportunity to provide help to the community of color. Because of the limited class time, our group only studied the limitations of the existing technology PPG, but did not do further research. I hope to continue exploring some technologies that can improve the social injustice that people of color are currently suffering during my graduate study. At the same time, combine it with the programming technology that I hope to further develop.
Research is education, but a personalized approach via work with a faculty member. It is not reserved for graduate students, or only persons who want to go to graduate school.
- Fitting it Into Your Curriculum: Research described below would be novel, impactful, and some of it would be used in the Antiracist Technology course. It can be used in Independent Study, UG research, Capstone Design, Honors Theses, BS-MS theses, MS theses, and several can be studied as part of the PhD dissertation.
- A Way to Start: Consider the ends of Chapters 1-4 in the Humanitarian Engineering book where mathematical and computational approaches (Matlab) are used, and taught in the associated course to undergraduates and graduate students (all engineering majors). Topics studied in those chapters/lectures include mathematical and computational modeling and analysis of: (i) poverty, financial advisors, and sustainability; (ii) social justice, democracy, and environmental justice; (iii) economic growth, technology diffusion, breaking poverty traps, and sustainable development; (iv) cooperative management of community technology and analysis of sustainable community development as a sociotechnical design challenge. “King’s Life,” donated by artist Larry Winston Collins, is part of the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center collection at Ohio State University.
- Use in Antiracism: Approaches to antiracist mathematics and computational methods are not the same as in humanitarian engineering, but the methodology there provides is useful for advancing antiracism technology.
- STEM Skills Are Valuable in Addressing Social Challenges: Expected to parallel the research in humanitarian engineering, the value includes: (i) obtaining a deep understanding, one that cannot be obtained with only words and philosophies (mathematics and computation can cope with with incredible complexity); (ii) gaining an understanding of previously believed intractable social issues in a STEM context and extending existing ideas by incorporating a systems view, distributed dynamics, nondeterminism, humans, sociality, and the environment; (iii) using this understanding to give ideas on the solution to challenging social issues via the embedding of technologies. Can engineers contribute in a meaningful way to help alleviate the challenges of racism? Definitely yes!
S. Drake, PI; H. Gonzalez, K. Lee, and K.M. Passino, co-PIs,
OSU Office of Research and Office of Diversity and Inclusion,
“Improving Police Interactions with Black Civilians through Racial Sensitivity Training Technology,”
Duration: 6/1/21 – 5/31/22