A screenshot of 6 people on zoom (headshots) looking at the camera and smiling. They have colorful backgrounds that all say A+ Alliance.
Caitlin Kraft (Switzerland), Renata Avila (Guatemala), Soraj Hongladarom (Thailand), Raya Sharbain (Jordan), Paola Ricaurte (Ecuador) and Jaime Gutierrez (Costa Rica) are members of the <A+> Alliance.

After an inspiring session at MozFest, we followed up with the Facilitators to learn more about the <A+> Alliance, where they plan to go from here, and how the community can get involved.

Here’s their story:

What is the <A+> Alliance?

The <A+> Alliance for Inclusive Algorithms led by Tecnológico de Costa Rica in Alajuela, Women at the Table in Geneva, and its regional partners Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico City, Jordan Open Source Association in Amman, and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok launched f<a+i>r, a Feminist AI Research network together with its partner IDRC.

Feminist AI‘s goal is Algorithmic Decision-Making and AI harnessed to deliver equality outcomes; designed with inclusion at the core; creating new opportunities & proactive, innovative correction of inequities. The f<a+i>r network focuses on bringing social programs in line with 21st research and values, dedicated to finding ways to make AI & ADM programs, and the technology, more effective, inclusive and transformational, not only more ‘efficient’.

What would the future look like if feminist principles of dismantling bias, intersectionality, accountability, and inclusive, responsible, transparent use of power in social systems & algorithms …. were brought to bear in algorithmic research that is designed to be actionable and correct for bias, not only describe or mitigate bias?

Inclusive Algorithms, or better yet Affirmative Action for Algorithms (<A+>), are needed in order to correct real life bias and barriers that prevent women, girls, and all traditionally marginalized others from achieving full participation and rights in the present, and in the future, we invent.

The <A+> Alliance will be launching an intense three year process which includes prototyping and piloting new models and a feminist AI in three regions: SouthEast Asia, the Middle East North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

What was the inspiration to begin this initiative?

Systemic gender, racial and intersectional bias sit at the core of current Artificial Intelligence & Algorithmic Decision-Making processes born in the North, replicated in the South. Combatting and correcting this wired bias and discrimination is urgent in order that the pro-social capabilities of AI & ADM can be activated. We have a positive vision and actions to solve it, enshrined in our call to action.

The initiative was created by Women at the Table in Switzerland, with a global vision.

How are you building feminist AI approaches in different regions and how are the different regions working together?

Our proposal is to springboard from the established ‘what’ of describing potential harm through ‘why’ harms exist socially or technically,and to go immediately to global south multi-disciplinary teams of feminist researchers focussed on ‘how’ course correcting future harms can happen, and most urgently ‘how’ (new data, algorithms, models, policies + systems) could be created, then prototyped, and piloted. We believe this method will also help create the enabling environment for an innovation ecosystem and build regional capacity.

How do you see this work impacting local governments and the global conversation around AI?

Once we have the first Feminist AI pilots up and running, we will finally be able to show processes on how to make feminist AI, instead of just describing how to fix a flawed design.

How was your MozFest session and how did it contribute to the advancement of this work?

It was extremely interdisciplinary with diverse conversation. We had a brilliant discussion with technologists and activists, North and South, and after the session many reached out wanting to be a part of our effort.

Where do you see the A+ Alliance going from here?

We are going to announce our Call for Papers (which feed into our Prototypes and Pilots) in July in Paris at the Generation Equality Forum which is led by UN Women, as we are also joint leadership of the Action Coalition for Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality. We are extremely excited about all the possibilities of global south focussed interdisciplinary research to invent, create and deploy a new kind of AI & ADM.

How can the MozFest community get involved?

Let us know which Feminist thinkers, activists, technologists, economists, ethnographers we should know about and who should get involved in this hands on community focussed work on creating inclusive technology. Let us know if you are a technologist and can help by contacting renata@aplusalliance.org .

Anything else you’d like to share?

Join our newsletter to watch for the call for papers (which are open specifically to interdisciplinary (or cross-regional) teams located in the Global South) and spread the word. Then after we announce which papers with new models go to prototype we will be looking for collaborators and partners, everyone from startups to municipalities to prove the concepts with us.

About the Author

The A+ ALLIANCE is a global, multidisciplinary, feminist coalition of Academics, Technologists, Activists dedicated to changing the trajectory of Artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision making systems. This article was written by Caitlin Kraft (Switzerland), and Renata Avila (Guatemala).

MozFest is part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world. To learn more, visit www.mozillafestival.org.

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