Research event

The decolonial turn and artificial intelligence: critiques and prospects

A presentation by Eugenia Siapera (University College Dublin). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance.

The volume and sophistication of technologies nested under the broad term of Artificial Intelligence keeps on growing. Perhaps unsurprisingly this is accompanied by concerns, unease and uncertainty over the actual and potential risks involved in the deployment of such systems. Critics centred on the potential biases and intensification of discrimination against communities that are already minoritised and vulnerable (e.g. Benjamin, 2018). Others highlight the dangers for privacy and freedom from constant surveillance, using for example facial recognition systems. The formal response to this (in Europe) has been the development of policy and regulatory frameworks, alongside sincere efforts to formulate a set of values and guiding principles for the development of AI, under the rubric of Ethical AI. At the same time however another line of critique poses a more fundamental challenge to AI: rather than considering AI as a new technology that needs to be ‘tamed’ it views it as a continuation of a violent system of domination, that of colonialism. What are the implications of this critique and what can or should we do about it? Is AI necessarily and inextricably bound to colonialism? Can a truly decolonial AI ever exist? In this talk, Eugenia will offer a brief overview of the ‘decolonial turn’ (Coudlry and Mejias, 2021) explaining the various strands of the decolonial critique and the challenges they pose. She will then sketch their implications for the future development of AI and outline the prospects (if any) for a truly decolonial AI.

Eugenia Siapera is Professor of Information and Communication Studies, director of the Centre for Digital Policy, and Head of the ICS School at UCD. Her research interests are in the area of digital and social media, political communication and journalism, technology and social justice, platform governance and hate speech, racism and misogyny. She was the PI of an IRC-funded project on racist hate speech in the Irish digital sphere, and a partner in a H2020 project on the mediated memory of conflict (RePAST). She is the PI of an IRC Coalesce project on Alt Tech and Harmful Health Narratives. She has written numerous articles and book chapters. Her most recent book is Understanding New Media (Sage, 2018, second edition) and the edited volume Gender Hate Online (2019, Palgrave, co-edited with Debbie Ging). She is currently working on the third edition of Understanding New Media and on an edited volume on Radical Journalism (co-edited with George Souvlis and Seamus Farrell, Routledge 2023).