blarg?

Algorithmically Marginalized

I wouldn’t have thought that mathematics or signal processing would have a cultural bent, but I just sat through a conference call where everyone was reasonably clear except for one guy, with a pronounced central-African accent, whose voice was getting audibly butchered by the noise cancellation algorithm on the line. The beginning of every sentence, and every pause, was punctuated by a sort of wierd, static-and-squarewave tug-of-war with the background noise.

I think it’s some combination of his accent and cadence of his speech, and it was really weird to notice the trend. On reflection, it makes perfect sense – algorithms optimized for the majority, as defined by the people who wrote them, would of course have a cultural impact on people at the margins – it just hadn’t occurred to me how that would work until just now.

2 Comments | Skip to comment form

  1. Buck

    You don’t remember the “you blinked!” camera feature?

  2. Ben

    Or the “webcams can’t see black people” brou-haha. http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/12/22/hp.webcams/index.html