Joy Buolamwini is the Founder of the Algorithmic Justice League
Joy Buolamwini is a poet of code who uses art and research to illuminate the shortcomings of artificial intelligence. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League to create a world with more ethical technology. Her TED Featured Talk on algorithmic bias has over 1 million views. Her MIT thesis methodology uncovered large racial and gender bias in AI services from companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. In addition to advising elected officials during US congressional hearings, she serves on the Global Tech Panel to advise world leaders and executives on reducing AI harms.
Joy has written op-eds on the impact of AI for publications like TIME Magazine and New York Times. Her spoken word visual audit "AI, Ain't I A Woman?" which shows AI failures on the faces of iconic women like Oprah Winfrey has been part of exhibitions ranging from Ars Electronica to the Barbican Centre, UK. A Rhodes Scholar and Fulbright Fellow, Joy has been named to notable lists including the Bloomberg50, Forbes Top 50 Women in Tech (youngest), and Fortune Magazine (40under40) named her "the conscience of the AI revolution". She holds graduate degrees from Oxford University and MIT; and a bachelor's from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
What brought you to Davos 2019?
I received an invitation from the World Economic Forum to join the 2019 Davos faculty and present my research on bias in facial analysis systems and ongoing efforts to mitigate harms during the Betazone session.
Defining leadership moment at Davos:
During my talk at the Congress Center, instead of only presenting the technical results of the algorithmic audits I’ve conducted on large tech companies, I began the talk with a live performance of a poem I wrote inspired by the research. I asked the audience, “Can machines ever see my queens as I view them; can machines ever see our grandmothers as we knew them?” while showing Microsoft labeling Michelle Obama a young man, Amazon predicting Oprah to be male, and IBM labeling Serena Williams male.
As both an artist and AI researcher, I have wrestled with how to combine these two identities which strengthen and inform one another. The work I do with the Algorithmic Justice League relies on both storytelling and rigorous technical academic work,. On the Davos stage, I demonstrated to the world what it means to be a poet of code and what it means to put research into action. To conclude the talk, I shared the Safe Face Pledge, the first agreement of its kind that prohibits the lethal application of facial analysis and recognition technology. Thus far more than 80 organizations and individual champions have indicated their support for restrictions on face-based biometric technology.
Personal motivation to advocate for women and girls:
We have entered the age of automation overconfident and underprepared, because the makers of the technologies of the future do not reflect most of humanity. To create a world where technology works well for all of us and not just the privileged and powerful, we need women, girls, and gender nonconforming individuals shaping the technology and policies that shape society. I aim to tell stories that make daughters of diasporas dream and sons of privilege pause to remind.
Where can people learn more about you and your key projects?
For more about the latest projects from the Algorithmic Justice League visit www.ajlunited.org and signup for our newsletter. To support the work consider becoming a patreon at https://www.patreon.com/poetofcode Online you can follow me via twitter @jovialjoy and on instagram at @joyfulcode.
I’m on a mission to show compassion through computation while telling stories that makes daughter of diasporas dream and sons of privilege pause.