D4BL (Data For Black Lives). No Humans Involved. September 2022
Sep 14, 2022
No Humans Involved
This morning/ 5:30 pm Riyadh time, I am scheduled to speak at the Saudi Global AI Summit, the exclusive gathering of AI leaders from around the world. My panel is entitled “AI Through the Lens of Equality” where I will be joined, perhaps not coincidentally, by all-women co-panelists.
I initially agreed to participate months ago because I saw the event as an opportunity to speak honestly and candidly to an audience of more than 3,000 researchers, scientists, policymakers, and world leaders about algorithmic violence and D4BL’s work.
We also wanted to gather information on the ground to better grasp the geopolitical implications of Big Tech’s role in the Middle East. With Google opening two new headquarters in Saudi Arabia and the US Military’s announcement of the construction of a new Pentagon testing site in the Saudi desert, I wanted to investigate the implication of these developments on our ongoing work to end data weapons at home.
But this morning/ tonight, I will not be speaking as planned. Nor will I be in attendance. On August 26, 2022, news broke that Salma al Shehab, a Saudi citizen and current Ph.D. student at Leeds University was sentenced to 34 years in prison for speaking out on Twitter (which is co-owned by the Kingdom) about the treatment of women.
When a coalition of activists led by SumofUs called for a boycott of the summit last week, we knew that the best way for us to influence the conversation was with our absence, not our presence...