Designing a Feminist Alexa

This is the first public event of the creative computing institute

Feminist Internet are the first research group. This comes out of ual futures. The mission is to advance equality on the internet.

Gendering of personal assistants (i.e Alexa, Google, Siri, Cortana)

The internet of things is a thing.

(Why is every slide a gif)

These personal assistants have two components:

Buolamwini (2018):

We have entered the age of automation overconfident, yet underprepared. If we fail to make ethical and inclusive artificial intelligence we risk losing gains made in civil rights and gender equity under the guise of machine neutrality.


Tae (the Microsoft chatbot)

The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized to you

She turned into a nazi blah blah we know the story

Microsoft Zo is the latest iteration of this.

People working on AI ethics:

You get a think tank! And you get a think tank!

Jaqline Feldman (2016) in the New Yorker:

By creating interactions that encourage consumers to understand the objects that serve them as women, technologists abet the prejudice by which women are considered objects.

Tech companies say to this: It's just what the market wants. AIs are designed as women, respond to abusive language in ways that reinforce stereotypes.

Leah Fessler, Quartz Magazine (2017): We tested bots like Siri and Alexa to see who would stand up to sexual harassment

There's been some pushback to that (and some changes), but that's not as good as intervening at the design/development stage.


Josie Young on Feminist Chatbots

How do we interrogate how we design chatbots? Chatbots are probably the main interface we have with AI (citation needed). If you call up a government agency, talk to your laptop, Facebook etc., you're taling to a chatbot. Biases in chatbots seep back into society in all kinds of ways.

Should chatbots have a gender? Nope.

Feminist research design process

Uzbekistan isn't a great place.

Teens in AI does bootcamps, hackathons etc.

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Alex Fefegha: Algorithms and the Life of Brisha Borden

This is his CSM MA Thesis.

AI as

The study of how to make computers do things at which, at the moment, people are better Rich and Knight (1991)

Brisha Borden was a Florida teen. She got arrested for stealing a bike - the judge in the case was using a re-offending score software. Of course the thing's racist.

This is detailed in a 2016 ProPublica Investigation

The offenders in Florida would get a survey where they ask questions which are essentially designed to filter out poor people. Of course this plays into disproportionate sentencing of black people in the US>

Responses to the ProPublica piece:

This is all based on US data and reporting, how does this play in a UK context. Ran workshops etc. with Comuzi.


Philip Alston:

It is extremely important for an audience interested in AI to recognize that when we take a social welfare system and ... put on top of it ways to make it more efficient, what we’re doing is doubling down on injustices


AI Cheatsheet


How do we balance changing tech vs changing society

Do we need standards / global regulation for AI

Calvert makes her point about artificial intelligence v.s. partial intelligence

Fefegha: I stay away from that conversation and focus on real-world issues that affect people now (i.e sentencing) Young: A more opimistic of the future, where AI creates, works together. Her (2013) as opposed to Ex Machina (2014).