In Summer 2023, I designed and moderated a panel presentation for the K&L Gates AI and Ethics conference at CMU. The ask for this panel was to help researchers and other AI professionals reflect on the outside community’s perspective on AI. Thus, I immediately requested that I be able to invite and pay some community members to come in for this discussion. My focus was to bring in people whose perspectives are less heard in academia and research circles, yet who understand the real ground truth about how people are using and thinking about AI.

I highly encourage anyone who is interested in AI and wants to build a more deep and humble view about what AI could and should be for the world. These panelists all offer perspectives on what the community thinks about AI and how the community may be benefited or harmed by AI’s involvement in their lives and work. Specifically, the panelists speak to the fact that while academics, researchers, and companies often want to build AI and experiment in the community, they rarely want to actually support the community in adopting AI for their benefit, create AI tools that make regular people’s lives better, nor fairly engage with the community for the co-design of AI.

There is an extensive discussion of topics on how researchers could better partner in the community, what the community really needs from partnerships, and how partnerships with the community go wrong. Additionally, we learn about all the benefits that we could see by researchers being more directly engaged with community members as they plan and develop AI systems.

All of these factors (and more) are discussed through the lens of 4 incredible community members on the panel:

Amil Cook – Director of Technology Curriculum and Programs at Community Forge. A long-time teacher and youth advocate, and a leader in the #Hip-HopEd collaborative.

LaTrenda Sherrill – Founder and CEO of Common Cause Consulting and Working Group Strategist for Remake Learning. LaTrenda is a longtime community advocate who has done extensive work in connecting community groups and community members to institutions and governments and translating the needs between the two.

Phahsa Ras – Founder of UMi Collective. Phahsa works on frameworks and methods for teaching and advocating for data sovereignty in the community.

Bonnie Fan – Community Researcher working with Pittsburgher’s for Public Transit and the Abolitionist Law Center.