14Web3 and the Culture

In the previous chapter, we pointed out that traditional approaches to personal characteristics such as gender and age may prove to be a poor match with how VNs see themselves, given their openness to identity fluidity and willingness to follow alternative life paths made available through digital tools.

The question of race for VNs is both the same, and different, as the question of gender. It is the same as gender in that it is no longer as clear‐cut as it used to be. The 2020 US Census revealed that the number of people who identified themselves as neither one race nor another, but rather “multiracial,” rose from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020, a 276% increase.1 But no matter how blurry the lines between male and female become, there are still only two main starting points when you're talking about gender: male and female. Overall, and acknowledging that great advances need to be made in representation for nontraditional variations on these two categories, both male and female people are pretty well represented in popular culture, training data for algorithms, and so on.

It's a different story when we talk about race. There, we have an infinitely long list of possible categories, including every race and ethnicity on the planet, and every possible combination of two or more of them. Out of all this glorious mélange, people who identify as white are still in the majority within the United States, as of the 2020 census2 – and it shows. White ...

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