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BIAS - Film Review (Transitions Film Festival)

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Implicit Bias aka Unconscious Bias
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Image - TFF 2020

BIAS is an 87-minute documentary enjoying its Australian Premiere at the Transitions Film Festival this year. Directed by award-winning director Robin Hauser, this 87-minute documentary explores how unconscious bias aka implicit bias defines and influences our decision making, the workplace, the justice systems and technologies. How do you feel about a factual statement - If you're human, you're biased. If so, what next?

Be sure to check TFF's complete program for other interesting groundbreaking documentaries about the social and technological innovations, revolutionary ideas and trailblazing changemakers that are leading the way to a better world.

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This documentary gestated after Robin had spent a couple of years talking to people about the lack of diversity in tech while making and screening CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap (2015), which she also directed. During her research over a couple of years, the term unconscious bias or implicit bias kept cropping up, and what's more; that we all have it. Considering herself an open-minded person, the more she learned about unconscious bias, the more she saw how it influenced her life. This made her wonder what biases she had that she wasn't aware of, and how they affected her choices and actions.

Finally taking a test that measures unconscious bias (the Harvard-based Implicit Association Test, or IAT: 1st one created in 1994 and over 17 million have taken it online), Robin was shocked by her results and this led her on her journey to try and understand what was at the base of her perceptions and judgements, the nature of human bias and the science behind it. By making herself the subject in the documentary and allowing herself to be vulnerable by exposing her own biases, she allows the audience to look inward and consider their own bias in a non-defensive way.

BIAS bursts onto the screen with a clever little question. Some of you may get it immediately; but if you don't, it may nudge you into a consciousness about yourself that may surprise you. Bias is also connected to that gut feeling we have that makes snap judgements. It's not something that we can be blamed for as we've evolved over millions of years to have the kind of brain we have, to be suspicious of people. There's nothing wrong with having a gut feeling. It just has to be based on something that actually matters.

If you have an interest in the whys and wherefores of human nature, the psychology of our being, or simply appreciate the value of learning, this documentary would be instrumental in furthering your education. It could be everyone's training manual that brings about an awareness about something we've been unconscious about that needs to be brought to consciousness to make the changes. The question is, can you control your implicit bias?

Bias permeates everything, even AI (artificial intelligence), as it is a human that's flawed with an implicit bias that's teaching it and feeding it information. It could be stereotyping an entire race, creed, religion or colour. For example, COMPAS, a computer program used in courtrooms to aid in sentencing and parole decisions could have Machine Bias. That's software used across the country to predict future criminals, and the algorithms and data used in COMPAS are not disclosed.

To make the changes for a better world, simply saying, I get it now, I understand, doesn't cut it. What are you willing to do about removing the blind spot? Be it the thumbprint of our culture in our brain, or conscious racism, the outcome is the same. How do we change it? Travel with Robin on an interesting journey as she speaks with the experts and explores the far corners of bias.

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Why? Bias - Documentary @ Transitions Film Festival 2020
When: 20 Feb to 6 Mar 2020
Where: Melbourne and Sydney, Australia
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