WASHINGTON — On Monday, a global coalition of digital-justice and human-rights leaders called on the news media and policymakers to tap the guidance of the communities most negatively impacted by artificial intelligence (AI).
A letter from 16 female and nonbinary experts, including many from the Global South, critiques the media for its heavy reliance on wealthy white men from North America and Western Europe to explain the harms posed by the unchecked proliferation of AI.
“For far too long media coverage of the threats and risks of technology has been defined by tech CEOs and their public relations departments,” the letter reads. “Meanwhile, the harms of these technologies continue to disproportionately fall on the communities of which we are a part… We’ve experienced firsthand the impacts when AI systems are used to discriminate against us, when tech companies try to silence us, when hate and harassment campaigns target us, and when governments exploit technology to surveil and oppress us."
Signers of the letter, available here, include Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González, Dr. Timnit Gebru of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, Dr. Safiya U. Noble of the Center on Race and Digital Justice, Nighat Dad of Pakistan’s Digital Rights Foundation, Rosemary Ajayi of the Digital Africa Research Lab, Htaike Htaike Aung of the Myanmar Internet Project and Arzu Geybulla of Azerbaijan Internet Watch.
Last week, the White House convened a summit that included the CEOs of Google and Microsoft, and the creators of ChatGPT, to discuss ethical and responsible AI development. During the event, they announced a series of measures to address the challenges raised by the increased use of the technology.
The letter draws attention to several recent media profiles of Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, a former Google executive who is now issuing grave warnings about the existential threat of digital intelligence. Hinton has dismissed the more global concerns raised by many of the letter’s signers.
“Hinton’s remarks are but the latest in a long, global history of ignoring the alarms sounded by anyone who is not a masculine tech executive,” the letter reads. “We allow these narrow perceptions of risk to set the terms of the debate about AI.”
Because this group and others have raised concerns about the very real, present and global dangers of this profitable technology, their views have been treated as negligible and marginalized.