Every year for the past decade, the Mozilla Festival has welcomed a diverse group of tech enthusiasts looking to create a healthier, more open internet. The MozFest tech community is full of individuals with a range of backgrounds, skills, and years of experience that they bring to the many causes that inspire them to action. We asked a few what they are most excited for at this year’s virtual festival.

Here’s what they said:

Borhane Blili-Hamelin, PhD is a MozFest 2022 Rethinking Power and Ethics Wrangler, and a MozFest 2022 TAIWG project lead (Accountability Case Labs)
Tara Vassefi brings her legal pedigree to leading ‘Truth of Waste as a Public Good’ in the MozFest Trustworthy AI Working Groups
Tobias Martens is a Fellow at 42 Berlin and founder of the AI interoperability project whoelse.ai
Tobias Martens is a Fellow at 42 Berlin and founder of the AI interoperability project whoelse.ai

Tell us about your last MozFest experience.

Borhane: I was incredibly inspired by the global, massively cross-disciplinary community of builders, advocates, organizers, researchers, (…list…does…not…end), at MozFest. The emphasis on interactive and creative workshop design also made MozFest virtual feel much, much more exciting to me than typical virtual conferences.

How did you hear about MozFest and why were you compelled to attend?

Tobias: I got interested in MozFest after learning about the multi-stakeholder approach and community working groups. It’s a truly multicultural community working together on some of the most important topics at stake for the future of Open Source Internet technologies.

Tara: It's difficult for me to express how much the MozFest community has impacted my life. I never thought of myself as someone who could engage with tech in a meaningful way. I'm a human rights attorney who uses social media exclusively for archiving and digital evidence purposes. But I happened to fall into technical spaces when in 2013, I was assigned to a legal issue that involved what we were calling "unique evidence" - blog posts, YouTube videos, social media content.

I know this might be difficult to imagine now, but at the time there was no meaningful court case or precedent that showed how to use this type of information for justice and accountability, so in those early days of what we now refer to as "open-source investigations," relying on this kind of evidence was a profound grassroots innovation born out of necessity, accessibility, and lack of resources. As one of the earliest lawyers to conceptualize the utility and optimize this type of evidence, I happened to carve a space for myself in the tech world and eventually the tech industry. What propelled me to seek out and join a community like MozFest was when I had just been removed from my "dream job" in tech and wanted to find like-minded people to keep fighting the good fight.

What are you excited about for this MozFest?

Tobias: The Slack channel and online community are a treasure trove of ideas and projects. You meet interesting people from all over the world and learn about their work/views/ideas on present and future online technologies. Especially regarding ethical questions of AI use cases, you can learn a lot and connect with likeminded people.

Borhane: I just can’t wait to see the outstanding session proposals we received become a reality. I’m also looking forward to being surprised and inspired by interactions and encounters with folks in the MozFest community.

Tara: What virtual or abstract decentralized societies like MozFest provide is a safe space for those of us who wish to tear down these invisible walls and open up the world to dynamic, community-centered, and equitable constructions aimed toward our collective success. These are sacred spaces with strength in numbers. There are so many more of us than we realize when we're siloed from one-another, only aware of how we each individually define success and make our best choices.

This is why I am so grateful for the ritual I've found through this tech community: my weekly meetings with the Truth As a Public Good Project, monthly gatherings facilitated by the Building Trustworthy AI Working Group, and I’m so excited for another family reunion at MozFest 2022! It’s not your typical virtual festival. Onward sovereigns!

You don’t want to miss MozFest 2022! Get your FREE tickets here.

Mozilla Festival 2022

MozFest is part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world. To learn more, visit www.mozillafestival.org. Sign up for the MozFest newsletter here to stay up to date on the latest festival and internet health movement news.

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