Karine Gentelet, new holder of the Abeona-ENS-OBVIA Chair AI and Social Justice

Fondation Abeona – École normale supérieure (ENS) – International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of AI and Digital Technology (OBVIA) have the pleasure to present the promising winner, Professor Karine Gentelet, as the new Chair in AI and justice for 2020-2021, succeeding Professor Kate Crawford of AI Now Institute, in New York. The chair invites a guest professor for a year to conduct research in AI and social justice and interact with researchers from Paris and Quebec ecosystems in the AI, Humanities and Social sciences and Health fields and organize seminars and public events.

The research project

Social justice and artificial intelligence: citizen governance to reverse invisibility in algorithms and discrimination in their uses

Inequitable power relations are the product of the imposition of dominant hegemonic structures or historical processes of colonization. Little research focuses on the uses, strategies and solutions advanced by groups, communities and individuals affected by digital technologies. However, these users have needs or concerns regarding the uses and deployment of AI technologies that are most likely very different from state institutions and private actors.

Their participation in governance has become essential from a democratic perspective. Their participation is also fundamental to limit and control the biases and discriminations related to AI technologies from their design to their use. However, and very often, the standpoint of these analyzes focuses on the effects (negative or positive), but rarely on the modalities of their participation or their inclusion in the modes of data governance, technologies and their uses. Nonetheless, they all express the need, even the urgency, to be not only consulted, but included in the modes of governance since they are, in essence, the first to be affected by these technologies developed and implemented without their expertise and their experiential knowledge. The current challenges are therefore to implement adequate processes of citizen data governance, algorithms and regulation modes of their uses. In a world which increasingly relies on AI and digital technologies, this citizen governance is a major social justice issue.

The research will take place in a context of a pandemic which cannot be ignored given the impact on the dynamics of social interactions, democratic life, fundamental rights, and obviously the omnipresence of AI technologies to support decision making. In addition, the post-COVID-19 global social, health and economic crisis looming in the coming years will mean the use of technologies is likely to increase, either to facilitate democratic interactions or to achieve monetary savings. In this sense, we should expect an acceleration of the dematerialization of social and political interactions and the datafication of society. It thus appears even more important to have a reflection on the modalities for a citizen participation in data governance, artificial intelligence systems and the use of these technologies at local and global levels.

About Karine Gentelet

Karine Gentelet, Ph.D, is an Associate Professor of Sociology within the Department of Social Sciences at the Université du Québec en Outaouais and will be a visiting professor at Université Laval. Her research interests and publications focus on recognition of human rights of Indigenous Peoples, uses of digital technology and artificial intelligence for social justice, ethics of research in an indigenous context and the social responsibility of researchers.

Karine Gentelet is a researcher at Université Laval’s Centre interuniversitaire d’études et de recherches autochtones (CIERA), at the Cyberjustice Laboratory where she is leading a research project on the empowerment of marginalized populations with artificial intelligence. She is also co-responsible of the International Relations, Humanitarian Action and Human rights research theme at the International Observatory on the societal impacts of AI and digital technology (OBVIA). Finally, Karine Gentelet has been strongly committed to the promotion and defense of human rights with Amnesty International since 2007.

About the partnership

École normale supérieure (ENS), Fondation Abeona and OBVIA have signed a 3-year partnership to advance research in AI in justice by inviting each year a personality expert in artificial intelligence and its sociological, ethical and scientific impacts. The chair is to focus on AI and social justice under the prism of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). This agreement is part of international scientific collaboration between France and Quebec and was signed in the presence of Nadine Girault, Quebec Minister for International Relations and the Francophonie and Minister for Immigration, Francization and Integration, and Cédric O, Secretary of State to the Minister for the Economy and Finance and the Minister for Action and Public Accounts.

The École normale supérieure is a world-class higher education and research institution that trains more than 2000 students, including 600 doctoral and 200 post-doctoral students, in careers in scientific research, higher and secondary education, as well as in the service of state administrations, local authorities, public institutions and companies. International, with 15 departments, 31 research units and more than a hundred research teams covering most disciplines, from humanities and social sciences to life and material sciences, the École normale supérieure is regularly awarded and now counts 14 Nobel Prizes and 10 Fields medals. ENS is committed to developing partnerships with institutions involved in equal opportunities activities and is a founding member of the PSL University.

The ENS foundation, recognized as being of public utility, is to develop and support the research and training activities of the École normale supérieure and its partners, in particular with the Paris Sciences and Lettres (PSL) scientific cooperation foundation of which the ENS is a founding member, to strengthen their relations with companies and to contribute to their international influence.

The Fondation Abeona sponsors research to promote equity and fairness in artificial intelligence. We bring together business leaders, research institutions, policy makers and data scientists to advance best practices and raise awareness about risks and opportunities created by innovation in data science, algorithmics and machine learning.

First lead by Université Laval and with the support of Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ), OBVIA is an open research network that brings together the expertise of more than 200 researchers in Humanities and Social Sciences, Health, and Science and Engineering. It is also an open space for discussion and reflection for all stakeholders in the development and use of AI and digital technology. Centred around a critical interrogation of technological innovations, the Observatory’s mission is to address crucial issues and identify plausible solutions for the problems and opportunities stemming from the rise of AI and digital technology in Quebec and elsewhere in the world.

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The International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of AI and Digital Technology is made possible by the support of the Fonds de recherche du Québec.