Coded Bias

Shalini Kantayya


A deep dive into the way algorithms, artificial intelligence and Big Data increasingly govern our lives – and into ways to fight back. Coded Bias is a gripping wake-up call, starring some of the most inspiring and impressive scientists, activists and thinkers in the field.

In just a short period of time, ‘Big Brother watching’ went from complete fiction to reality. With cameras on every street corner, facial recognition techniques and massive data collection through our smart phones, we are observed more than ever. In the United States, over 117 million people are included in a face recognition network that the police can search, without warrant, using algorithms without safeguard or regulations. And what seems like ‘neutral, objective technology’, in fact often discriminates on race, gender and other things.

A growing number of scientists, journalists and activists tackle this hidden, extremely powerful force. Like the inspiring American computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, who takes on Amazon’s facial recognition system. And mathematician Cathy O’Neil, whose book Weapons of Math Destruction is filled with examples of people whose lives were ruined after computer models took over from human judgment. How do we escape this emerging mass surveillance state?

Nominated for the Activist award
All nominations


Shalini Kantayya
Country of production
China, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States
90 minutes
Spoken language