MozFest 2021 Will Examine the Intersection of AI and Society

Mozilla

By Mozilla | Feb. 16, 2021 | Mozilla Festival

The eleventh-annual Mozilla Festival will take place online. Through diverse programming, we’ll explore the nexus of AI and power, labor, truth, and other critical issues


Biased algorithms, online misinformation, and a host of other internet issues — and potential solutions — will be the focus of the eleventh-annual Mozilla Festival, or MozFest.

The two-week festival will unfold online from March 8 - March 19 due to the pandemic. But it will feature the same programming and zeal as past years. Thousands of technologists, activists, and artists from around the globe will interrogate and help address the most pressing internet issues of the day.

This year, MozFest’s focus will be on the AI in our everyday lives and the data that powers it. Says J. Bob Alotta, Mozilla’s VP of Global Programs:

“Over the past year, a pandemic has swept the globe. People have risen up to protest systemic racial injustice. And the climate emergency has grown more urgent every day.

“Trustworthy AI is directly layered into these crises and their remedies. The AI that powers online platforms can help connect us during the pandemic — but it can also misinform us and polarize us. AI systems can be wielded for good in the fight for racial justice — but facial recognition and discriminatory algorithms can also do further harm to communities of color. While AI can help us understand and combat climate change, AI can also consume vast amounts of energy and produce vast amounts of CO2.

“The antidote to these crises is not simple. But the solutions can only start simply: with people and movements — people and movements devoted to internet health, to racial justice, to environmental justice. People and movements that bridge these issues, understand how they intersect, and fight for them together. That’s what MozFest is for.”

MozFest 2021 will feature:

11 spaces for participants to meet, talk, learn, and build together. Think of spaces like mini-festivals devoted to a specific topic. Spaces include “AI in IRL,” where we’ll examine how algorithms are actually developed and deployed. “Shifting Power in Tech,” where we’ll address the power imbalances between Big Tech and billions of internet users. “Openness,” where we’ll explore how to make collaboration, transparency, and inclusion the status quo online. And lots more. See all 11 spaces.

300+ sessions to swap ideas, write code, and build community. Sessions include “Citizen Browser: How We Built a Facebook Forensics Tool,” “Exposing the Human Rights Impacts of Machine Learning APIs,” “The Intersection of Ethics and Automated Decision Making,” and countless others.

Dialogues & Debates, the festival’s signature speakers series and a place for fiery conversations and compelling panels. Across 9 panels, 25 panelists will discuss subjects like “AI & Labor,” “AI & Power,” and “Open Source & the Pandemic.” Panelists include Internet Without Borders executive director Julie Owono; Pakistanti digital rights activist Nighat Dad; Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam Touria Meliani; AI for the People CEO Mutale Nkonde; and other luminaries. Meet all 25 speakers.

Amsterdam flavor. Prior to the pandemic, the festival was slated to move from London to Amsterdam. So we’re bringing the Amsterdam spirit online. A wide range of sessions will be run by local civil society like ECNL, educational institutions such as University of Amsterdam, and the music community Tribe of Noise. Expect stroopwafel cooking classes, and local artists and projects in the program. And two Dutch luminaries — Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Touria Meliani and Waag founder Marleen Stikker — are speaking on the Dialogues & Debates stage.

Unique design that MozFest has honed for more than a decade. Our federated design approach means the Spaces and Sessions are built by the participants themselves; everyone at the festival also makes the festival. Our global community allows perspectives from more than 80 countries to coalesce. Diversity and inclusion are foundational principles, and manifest in our Queering MozFest and Neurodiversity Spaces and award-winning speaker line-up.