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Saturday, June 10 • 3:30pm - 5:00pm
AI in/from the Majority World

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Current understandings of AI systems have a weakness: most people's histories, futures, and opinions have been written out of the story of these systems and their effects. To address this erasure, Sareeta Amrute, Rigoberto Lara Guzmán, and Ranjit Singh co-curated a syllabus project called AI in/from the Majority World. In this text, we worked with collaborators across four continents–South America, Asia, North America, and Europe–to develop standpoints and approaches to understanding computational technologies grounded in a planetary consciousness.

We asked ourselves two questions when making this primer. First, how can we describe living with algorithmic systems and their data collection practices as they increasingly become central to organizing everyday life? And second, what visions can we surface for building equitable AI infrastructures for the geographic regions that are home to the majority of the human population, what we refer to as the majority world, a term coined by Bangladeshi photojournalist, Shahidul Alam? Over time, these questions yielded a set of topics that we have organized into three large themes: ground realities, mediating structures, and framing narratives—moving from the empirically fine-grained, through mid-level processes, to the imaginations of pasts, presents and futures that govern AI and the majority world.

The Majority World: an empirical site and a standpoint
Ground realities: Decolonizing, Feminist AI, Afro-Modernities, Indigenous Protocols, Anti-Caste Cultures
Mediating structures: Development Legacies, Labor, Migration, War Machines
Framing narratives: Surveillance, Extraction, Social Protection, Experimentation

Workshop Description:
In this workshop, we ask: What do intersectional approaches to the study of algorithmic life look like? How do we enable rhizomatic growth patterns in our pedagogy that extend beyond regional and disciplinary boundaries? We conceived this workshop as another vector in our ongoing inquiry into collaborative models for epistemic justice that work outward from the concerns of local communities to concretized forms of planetary knowledge production.
During the session, we will co-design a class syllabus and learn about strategies for epistemic justice in sociotechnical research practice. Participants will engage with a set of reference tools from our project: the AI in/from the Majority World Primer, our initial offering of categories, and a Zotero Library, which currently contains 666 unique entries. After a brief introduction to these resources, participants will be able to browse these tools to mix themes and find the categorical intersections they find most generative.

Challenge: Participants will be divided into small groups and, in 40 minutes, co-design a thematic week for a course on AI in/from the Majority World. Which theme(s) and resources would you choose? Why?
After building a module for a week, each small group will present their module and explain their rationale and design choices.

A parallel question to explore here is whether the themes/readings were well represented/ available in the resource library or if they noticed any content gaps.

Reflection: At the end of this exercise, participants will gain familiarity with the process of making a collective syllabus from a diverse set of materials on AI in the Majority World. We hope to connect this process with questions of epistemic and citational justice around the resources we use to teach particular themes, the possible representation gaps in our reference tools, and finally, the dynamics of making a small, yet meaningful contribution to a larger field.

Through this workshop, our hope is to surface the emergent challenges and possibilities in working with/on established and emerging scholarship in the field of AI in/from the Majority World and creating ways of teaching this scholarship. Ultimately, our hope is that this exercise will surface insights on what a pedagogical practice grounded in epistemic justice and open source access might look like.

Workshop Format:
90 minute session
5 mins Icebreaker: Who is in the room?
10 mins Introduction to the reference toolset : what is it and how was it built?
40 mins Challenge. Imagine you are co-designing a week-long module for a course on AI in/from the Majority World. Articulate the theme of your module and find resources that you can use to teach it by browsing the resource library.
20 mins Class presentations. Groups will share their course prototypes and receive feedback.  
15 mins Reflection. Strategies for epistemic and citational justice. Making critical sociotechnical pedagogy.


Sareeta Amrute

Data & Society Research Institute

Ranjit Singh

Data & Society Research Institute, United States of America

Saturday June 10, 2023 3:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
PS 403 (Design Center)