Informatics Seminar Series
Spring Quarter 2021

Friday, May 14, 2021

“Rethinking Artificial Intelligence Through a Racial Justice Lens”

S. Craig Watkins
Ernest A. Sharpe Centennial Professor
School of Journalism and Media, The University of Texas at Austin

Artificial intelligence is spreading into all aspects of our lives, but at what cost? In this talk, S. Craig Watkins explores this central question: what are the racial justice implications of the routinization of artificial intelligence? Critical AI studies is interrogating various aspects of artificial intelligence including algorithmic injustice, the lack of diversity in the development of AI, and a citizenry that has yet to fully grasp the high stakes of a world increasingly driven by automated decision making systems. Watkins also discusses the Good Systems initiative at UT Austin, which is designed to explore what the complexities of producing "technology for good." Drawing from three current projects, Watkins explores a variety of issues including the role of AI in the lives of Black and Latinx children and the racial justice implications associated with the incorporation of AI into products that support humans in need or crisis. In the final example, Watkins addresses some of the racial justice concerns that are emerging as cities begin to invest more heavily in AI-based systems to either augment or in some cases replace human labor.

S. Craig Watkins is the Ernest A. Sharpe Centennial Professor in the Moody College of Communication and the Founding Director of the Institute for Media Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin. Watkins is the author of six books, exploring topics related to media, technology, diversity, and the future of innovation. He is currently leading the Racial Justice Research Focus Area of Good Systems, a UT-Austin Grand Challenge exploring ethical artificial intelligence.

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