Data Driven Society

When and Where

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Myhal Centre
55 St George Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 0C9


Surya Mattu



In today’s digital world social, economic, and racial injustice lurks in the shadows of the unseen Facebook post, the hidden algorithm used to sort employment resumes, and the risk assessment tool used in criminal sentencing.  These systems tend to be opaque and beyond scrutiny. Access is usually restricted to large companies and governing bodies whose interests are often unaligned with large parts of their customer base and citizens. Much of the criticism of the technology industry tends to be hypothetical or speculative because it can be very difficult to measure the ways in which people are being harmed. In this talk we will go over some real world cases of what that harm looks like and who it impacts.


Surya Mattu is a Brooklyn based investigative journalist, artist, and engineer and who looks at the ways in which algorithmic systems perpetuate systemic biases and inequalities in society. Currently he works as an investigative data journalist at The Markup. Previously, he was a contributing researcher at ProPublica, where he worked on Machine Bias, a series that aims to highlight how algorithmic systems can be biased and discriminate against people. Machine Bias was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Explanatory Journalism. He has also worked at Gizmodos’ Special Projects Desk and been a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab. He has shown work at The Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Museum of Art & Design, The Whitney Museum, V&A Museum and Bitforms Gallery