Co-Opting AI: WHITENESS
NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU Tandon’s Department for Technology, Culture and Society and the 370 Jay Project invite you to a discussion on diplomacy in the series on “Co-Opting AI.” Featuring Jessie Daniels, William R. Frey, Mutale Nkonde, Natasha Stovall and Mona Sloane in conversation, this event examines the intersection of whiteness and AI technology. In what ways do social issues in AI relate to wider patterns of racial discrimination? How does white privilege affect AI design? What are the conversations we need to be having in order to advance racial literacy in tech design and policy? The panelists will come together to provide their expertise on AI, racism, psychology, sociology, and policy to consider these questions.
Jessie Daniels, PhD (she/her), is a Faculty Associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center and a (Full) Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, and affiliated faculty in Africana Studies, Critical Social Psychology and Sociology at The Graduate Center-CUNY. She is an internationally recognized expert on Internet manifestations of racism, and in that capacity presented her work to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in April, 2019. For more than twenty-five years, she has studied race and racism in various forms of media. Her first book, White Lies (Routledge, 1997), explored far-right extremist groups’ printed newsletters, then she followed that with a second book, Cyber Racism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), which examined some of the same groups and how they had, or hadn’t, moved onto the popular Internet. In that research, she included interviews with young people (ages 15-19) about how they navigate what she calls “cloaked sites,” an early form of online propaganda. She is currently at work on another book that extends this work, Tweet Storm: The Rise of the Far Right, the Mainstreaming of White Supremacy, and How Tech and Media Helped. In 2014, Contexts, the magazine of the American Sociological Association, called her a “pioneer in digital sociology.” In 2016, she co-edited (with Karen Gregory and Tressie McMillan Cottom), Digital Sociologies, which has been adopted by courses at several universities around the world. Daniels’ attention is increasingly focused on how digital media technologies are changing higher education. The way scholars produce knowledge and share it has been radically transformed in the last twenty-five years, and this has serious implications for scholars, for students, and for institutions of higher education. Daniels has co-authored two books on this topic, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era (with Polly Thisthelthwaite), and Going Public (with Arlene Stein), along with a number of articles. Since 2016, Daniels sees the changing landscape of scholarly communication converging with her other interest in the far right, as these forces launch coordinated attacks on faculty, students and staff at universities as a way of undermining the goals of higher education. Faculty and academic leaders are generally unprepared for these attacks. In 2019, Daniels launched a firm, Public Scholars, LLC, designed to help faculty who aspire to be public scholars achieve their goals and work with university administrators who want to assess and respond to attacks from the far-right against their institutions. In 2018-2019, she was a Faculty Fellow at Data & Society where, along with collaborators Mutale Nkonde and Darakhshan Mir, she developing a new approach to addressing a set of persistent problems in tech, called Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech. This innovative approach is currently in development, and when more fully realized, has real potential for transforming the tech industry. She is also at work on two other books which are: Undoing White Womanhood, and Out to the Blue Water: A Memoir of Love, Racism & Madness.
William R. Frey [he⋮they] (@williamrfrey) is a doctoral student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and organizer and co-facilitator of the Space for Uprooting Whiteness. His research focuses on whiteness, antiracist praxis, and intimacy. They have expertise in dialogic pedagogy and facilitation, contextual analysis of social media, and participatory models of domain expert involvement in computational mixed methods research.
Mutale Nkonde is an AI policy analyst and researcher based in New York City. She started her career as a 2018-19 fellow at Data & Society, a Research Institute in New York City and works at the intersection of race, technology, and policy. Nkonde has been working as a senior tech policy advisor for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke since 2016. She was part of the team that helped introduce the Algorithmic Accountability Act into the House of Representatives in April 2019, and is currently considering a series of data privacy proposals. She is also the founder of the Dorothy Vaughn Tech Symposium, a briefing series that takes place on Capitol Hill. Her work has been covered in MIT Tech Review, WIRED, Venture Crunch, Muse and PBS News Hour, as well as being a co-author of a report on racial literacy and tech, and she speaks widely on race, policy, and AI.
Natasha Stovall is a clinical psychologist works with adults, adolescents and children in private practice Dr. Stovall has worked extensively in the New York City and New York State psychiatric inpatient, outpatient and juvenile justice systems, and is on the board of Rainbow Heights Club, a support and advocacy program for LGTBQ+ consumers of mental health services. Her clinical and research interests include using psychology and psychoanalysis to understand white racial identity as a social and emotional process shaped by European culture, religion and politics. Previous to becoming a psychologist, Dr. Stovall was a journalist at the Village Voice and Vanity Fair. Her essays and cultural criticism have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Spin. Her most recent essay, “Whiteness on the Couch”, appeared in Longreads in August 2019.
Mona Sloane is a sociologist working on inequality in the context of AI design and policy. She frequently publishes and speaks about AI, ethics, equitability and policy in a global context. Mona is a Future Imagination Collaboratory (FIC) Fellow, as well as a Fellow with NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology. She also holds fellowships with NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK) and The GovLab in New York. Mona teaches at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and at IPK, she founded and convenes the ‘Co-Opting AI’ series. Mona also curates the ‘Co-Opting AI’ section on Public Books. Mona holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has completed fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter @mona_sloane.
Image credit: Philipp N. Hertel