The Decolonized AI Futures (DAIF) Space, one of the mini-festivals within MozFest 2022, held a series of 31+ workshops, discussions, and art installations centered around the theme of decolonizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and (re) defining more optimistic futures.
In 2021, the DAIF Space was born out of the curiosity of seven people from Mexico, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the United States that had posed three questions during their first gathering: What does it mean to decolonize Artificial Intelligence (AI), why does AI need decolonizing and what does this entail?
All the prior work was brought to life in March 2022, with a space where people from the Global Majority could have their voices heard, and discuss collaboratively if a future of decolonized AI was possible at all, and how to get there together.
The team got together for a final debrief around the learnings, challenges, and what would be the future of the Space, in order to share with the MozFest community and all people that are interested in being part of the most amazing festival.
Here’s a quick-to-the-point-summary for you:
What are the key learnings from MozFest 2022?
- Kiwako: Amazed at the autonomy given to Wranglers. The team was able to set its own space narratives and have freedom in outreach and curation decisions. This process is truly a federated design and makes MozFest a trustworthy conference on internet health and AI, especially because of the diversity of Wranglers from around the globe. I also learned the term “Global Majority” when we were discussing our space narrative last year (h/t Zannah Marsh) which goes perfectly with our ideas.
- Prajna: There is so much happening around the world in so many different forms. The way these technologies impact us varies so greatly, that it is absolutely necessary to have perspectives and inputs from across the range.
- Meag: I am continuously grateful for the sense of belonging that Wrangler spaces create at MozFest. You never need to be an expert and it’s okay to learn out loud. If you want a crash course in self-organizing, storytelling, and coalition building, wrangling is for you.
- Uffa: Participating in sessions in the Decolonised AI Futures space made me realize the numerous diversity issues that are not being addressed with regard to AI development and adoption. Overall the festival made them realize and appreciate the wide community that is working towards ensuring that free, open, and healthy AI tech is being developed.
What are the key takeaways from your experience?
- Kiwako: Optimize for inclusion. Efficiency is only a constraint factor based on the limited time and energy people can give.
- Meag: Connect with people who have done this before!
- George: Handover process with Facilitators before the sessions. Small moments on how amazing it is to be a Wrangler.
- Uffa: The Decolonized AI Futures Space event was aimed at enabling the conversation for participants to respond to three thematic questions as displayed on the Miro board.
What was/were your favorite(s) session(s)?
- Kiwako: Many great sessions filled with perspectives underrepresented in Western tech researcher-led initiatives and conferences. I’m amazed at the teachers in the Philippines from Adapting AI Pedagogy for Local Needs – they equipped their students with an independent activist mindset and hands-on responsible AI practices, as well as industry-ready skills for them to become tech builders/leaders in the Philippines.
- Prajna: Facial Recognition Technology and the Spectre of Police Bias in India was a very dynamic, engaging, and eye-opening session for me.
- Meag: New Realities was a personal narrative project that allowed session participants to explore their own identities with each other. Led by incredible undergraduate student Liyan
- Uffa: The Decolonised AI Futures space event was certainly one of my favorites. Another session that I really enjoyed was the African Women in Artificial Intelligence Project. It really introduced me to a community of African women in AI who discussed solutions to common problems with regard to AI innovation and gender equality in Africa.
- Mar: Decolonising Artificial Intelligence? A View From The South brought Civil Society Organizations and scholars from developing countries into a meaningful conversation to understand what Decolonization means for each of them and what would be needed for a shift in power in AI.
How would you continue to apply the values of the DAIF space in the future?
- Kiwako: Pre-pandemic time, I had attended public interest-oriented academic conferences and was disappointed by the limited imaginations of western tech researchers, drawing conclusions mostly based on North American/Euro contexts. By 2021/2022, more conversations and initiatives have emerged to understand global perspectives but are still limited to English-friendly countries/western-educated scholars. I want to think about how to ease the language/cultural barriers between the Global Majority and the western world. I will also continue to advocate for inclusivity and awareness of the barriers in Western-led public interest initiatives.
- Uffa: I will continue my work by including underrepresented voices in the digital space using lessons and networks built from this space. I recognize that more and more, as technology is benignly adapted into society, global inequalities that already exist may influence the way the technology is used. Therefore, equal representation in tech, primarily AI, should be ensured in other to give power to the excluded communities.
- Mar: The team made it an incredible experience, and I want to keep up with the values created for the space such as: designing with the Global Majorities spaces in which the differences make a difference.
Our Facilitators were excited to share what comes next in their efforts to decolonize AI and redefine a more optimistic future. Here’s how some of them are continuing to engage in meaningful acts to keep the conversation going:
- Incubating Feminist AI: Call for Expression of Interest Q2 2022 by Alliance A to bring to life new models, new ways of conceiving AI that correct for historic inequities and bring social programs + policy for the 21st century.
- The Machine is black by Arda Awais, is an interactive timeline that looks at how Black bodies are completely invisible or hypervisible throughout history, and how technology continues to perpetuate these harms. At the end of the experience, visitors can submit an addition so the timeline can continue to be updated.
You still have time to take part and watch on-demand talks and discussions at your own pace at mzl.la/tickets! Will you join MozFest in their efforts to fight for a more humane digital world?