Coded Bias

Coded Bias

About the Film

In an increasingly data-driven, automated world, the question of how to protect individuals’ civil liberties in the face of artificial intelligence looms larger by the day. Coded Bias follows M.I.T. Media Lab computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, along with data scientists, mathematicians, and watchdog groups from all over the world, as they fight to expose the discrimination within algorithms now prevalent across all spheres of daily life. 

While conducting research on facial recognition technologies at the M.I.T. Media Lab, Buolamwini, a "poet of code," made the startling discovery that some algorithms could not detect dark-skinned faces or classify women with accuracy. This led to the harrowing realization that the very machine-learning algorithms intended to avoid prejudice are only as unbiased as the humans and historical data programming them. MORE

Coded Bias documents the dramatic journey that follows, from discovery to exposure to activism, as Buolamwini goes public with her findings and undertakes an effort to create a movement toward accountability and transparency, including testifying before Congress to push for the first-ever legislation governing facial recognition in the United States and starting the Algorithmic Justice League. The film also includes data journalist Meredith Broussard; Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, who is monitoring the trial use of facial recognition technology by U.K. police; Virginia Eubanks, author of Automating Inequality; Ravi Naik, human rights lawyer and media commentator; Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, author and expert on algorithmic discrimination and technology bias; and Zeynep Tufekci, author of Twitter and Teargas.

The Filmmaker

In addition to Coded Bias, Shalini Kantayya directed the season finale episode for the National Geographic television series Breakthrough, a series profiling trailblazing scientists transforming the future, Executive Produced by Ron Howard, and broadcast globally in June 2017. Her debut feature film Catching the Sun, about the race for a clean energy future, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Catching the Sun released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio, and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary.  LESS

Film Credits

Shalini Kantayya

Shalini Kantayya, p.g.a.

Sabine Hoffman

Director of Photography
Steve Acevedo

Alexandra Gilwit
Zachary Ludescher
Shalini Kantayya

Visual Effects
Zachary Ludescher
Alexandra Gilwit

Original Score
Katya Mihailova
Meredith Broussard
Joy Buolamwini
Silkie Carlo
Icemae Downes
Virginia Eubanks
Griff Ferris
Manuel Victor Frederick
Timnit Gebru
Mark Houldin
Jenny Jones
Patric Tariq Mellet
Tranae Moran
LaTonya Myers
Ravi Naik
Safiya Noble
Cathy O’Neil
Mona Patel
Deborah Raji
Daniel Santos
Mona Sloan
Megan Smith
Kiri Soares
Zeynep Tufecki
Amy Webb

Post-Production Services
Dakoit Pictures

Associate Producer
Kathryn Henderson

Archival Research
Mattie Akers
Sheila Maniar
Christopher Seward
Paul Rachman
Kurt Engfuhr

Story Editors

Assistant Editor
Kathleen Caldwell

Additional Camera
Derek Janniere
Derek Wiesehahn
George Wieser
Beau Grantland
Brad Sunness
Eric Phillips-Horst
Wolfgang Daniels
Gabriel Rubin
Jen Atalla
Bowie Alexander
Nicole Salazar

Audio Post Facility
Splash Studios, NYC

Consulting Producer
Karin Hayes

Additional Visual Effects
Gavin Guerra

Camera Assistant
Chantal Arslan

Sound Recordist
Jim Keaney
Mike Bono
Ted Passon

Live Projection Team
Jason Batcheller
Seth Kirby
Bill Moore
Zach Slocum

Ruby Bird Studios Brooklyn

First Production Assistants
Enosa Ogbeide
Mayukha Karnam

Production Assistants
Esme Isabel Auster
Abbie Jones Hornburg

Voiceover Talent
Tate Hanyok

Dolly Services
Jimmy Day

Performance Artists
Janell Williams
Stephanie Browne
Rebecca Handler

Big Brother
John Casey

Recording Musicians
Guitar - Chris Petti
Violia - Alex Tyfer and Eugene Grach
Viola - Daniel Lay, Maxim Levin
Cello - Marta Bagratuni and Kumhee Lee
Double Bass- Len Slutski
Piano - Katya Mihailova
Music by GIGI Services

Additional Mixing by
Chris Petti
Sound Engineering Creekside Studios

China Unit

Hangzhou Field Producer
Casey Homovich
Camera Operator
Yang Yang
Jay Wu

Sound Recordist
He Junyi

United Kingdom Unit

London Field Producer
Mike Beddoes

Camera Operator
James Heaphy
William Hadley

Camera Assistant
Maxmilian Skach

Sound Recordist
Alex Purkiss

Runner / Driver
Dana Myzer

South Africa Unit

Cape Town Field Producer
Antoinette Engel

Sound Recordist
Zahir Isaacs

Inga Eilenkrig

Mainline Partners

The 2050 Group

Speaking Agent
Lavin Agency

Impact Producer
Locsi Ferra

Poster Design
Pablo Londero

Distribution Advisory Services
Cinetic Media

Clearance Counsel
Donaldson + Callif, LLP

Distribution Counsel
Granderson Des Rochers, LLP

Archival Footage
Dartmouth College Library
Democracy Now
Getty Images

“On The Beautiful Blue Danube” and "An der schönen blauen Donau", Op. 314
Written by Johann Strauss II
Performed by English Session Orchestra

"Clair de Lune" Suite Bergamasque
Written by Claude Debussy
Performed by Katya Mihailova

“Coded Bias” Theme Song
Vocals by Naiika Alfred
Mix and Mastering Chris Petti
Lyrics by Joy Buolamwini, “AI, Ain’t I a Woman"

Special Thanks
A.I. Now Institute
Samantha Bates
Zeph Capo
David Caroll
Fitzroy Christian
Hannah Couchman
Diamond Crawford
Kade Crockford
Siyabulela Daweji
Paul-Olivier Dehaye
Stephanie Dinkins
Katie Evans
Rodney Evans
Firelight Media Lab
Gabriel Florenz
Georgetown Center on Data and Privacy
Megan Goulding
Habitas Taila Hewitt
Nicole Hughes
Jordan Iturbido
Grey Jabesi
Michael Jones
Samar Katnani
Jamie Kingston
Stephanie Lechicha
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Yolanda Navarro Middle School
William Moore
Mutale Nkonde
Wandisile Nqeketho
Robert Lee Parr
Juan Pablo Dominguez
Pioneer Works
Rane Riley-Walker
Cansu Safar
Hanna Sassaman
Eric Sears
Cynthia E. Smith
Eric Shine
Morgan Swan
Rahdi Taylor
University of California, Los Angeles
University of North Carolina
Yarn Labs
Lynne E. Zalesak

Fiscal Sponsor
Women Make Movies

Funding Provided by
Ford Foundation | JustFilms
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Program
Chicken & Egg Pictures
Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
Jerome Foundation

Original Series Funding Provided by
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Wyncote Foundation
The National Endowment for the Arts

CODED BIAS is a production of 7th Empire Media.

This program was produced by Coded Bias LLC which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2020 Coded Bias LLC. All rights reserved.

Have you experienced bias in artificial intelligence or facial recognition software? Did the revelations in Coded Bias shock you?


  • Sundance Film Festival
    Grand Jury Prize (Nominee)
  • Critics’ Choice Award
    Best Science Documentary (Nominee)
  • Hamptons International Film Festival
    Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking
  • Calgary International Film Festival
    Best International Documentary
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Have you experienced bias in artificial intelligence or facial recognition software? Did the revelations in Coded Bias shock you?