The pair found a shared interest in tech-solutionism—the sanguine idea that technology can be a kind of cure-all for societal ills. Research into hiring algorithms, predictive policing, and facial-recognition software have shown that even the most data-driven technologies are not exempt from human biases. Rather, those biases are legitimized and perpetuated under the guise of objectivity. “Surveillance and other technologies are just updated versions of the analog strategies used to oppress people before,” American Artist explained via email.
As the ad explains, Ally AI claims to help users navigate “tricky” situations related to race. But if the app were a real product, it would likely perpetuate complacency by giving the white user a quick-fix through the voice assistant. Instead of questioning their role in oppression, such as the implications of living in a gentrified neighborhood like Becky, the characters in the satirical videos appear totally devoid of self-awareness. “White people—or, more generally, dominant groups—don’t want to engage in the labor of figuring things out, and that’s why many of the issues we make fun of persist,” Richardson noted.