03 Apr 2023 Artificial Intelligence and the Master’s House
“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change”– Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde’s admonition that the tools of oppression cannot be effectively applied to counter such oppression comes to mind when reflecting on current debates about technology-driven responses to online misogyny, racism, and discrimination.
There is a growing public consciousness that computer algorithms at one time considered innocuous are in fact infused with the biases of their (mostly younger, white, male) developers. If the debates at the just-concluded 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 5-17, 2023) are any indication, the jury is still out as to whether technology can be relied upon to challenge the sexism inherent in it.
The workshop titles indicate opinions on a spectrum:
From the factual: Digital Gender-Based Violence: How Technology has Affected LGBTIQ People’s Lives; Algorithms, the Digital Divide and Polarization: Impact on Gender Justice
To the doubtful: Automating inequality: The digital era, a new reality perpetuating old forms of discrimination?; Combating online violence against women in politics: are social media platforms the new chaotic battlefield or a breakthrough ally to promote women’s political participation?
To the hopeful: Feminist Artificial Intelligence: Mobilizing and Delivering Women-Led Change.
Feminist AI is that which is created by and for women and marginalized others, centered on the needs, interests, and knowledge of these groups. A poignant example is the What Women Want Chatbot, “a digital tool developed by women, for women, to enable stakeholders to collect women’s voices, share results in real-time, and accelerate advocacy for gender equality”.
AI is a fast-flowing tide in which we have been swept up, knowingly or not. The risks that runaway AI bodes for human rights, women, minority and marginalized groups particularly and that we have an inkling of, are quite likely just a tip of the iceberg. We must first begin by educating ourselves to redefine the rules of engagement.
Read more about events co-organized by WACC parallel to the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women: