Topics & Readings

Weekly Topic Sessions: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Week 1 (Feb 4): Introduction to Critical AI and Data Justice in Society

Introductory overview of seminar by Prof. Nitin Sawhney. Participatory session (using Miro) to get to know each other & discuss course topics, led by Henriette Friis, Sid Rao and Natalia Villaman.


Racial Justice | Decode the Default — The Internet Health Report 2020Mozilla, January 2021.

Forget user experience. AI must focus on ‘citizen experience’, Jarno M. Koponen, Venture Beat, January 31, 2021. 

Related Video:

Week 2 (Feb 11): Situating Big Data and AI in Societal Context

M. C. Elish and danah boyd. Situating Methods in the Magic of Big Data and Artificial IntelligenceCommunication Monographs, 85:1, 57-80, 2017. (PDF)

Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler. Anatomy of an AI System: The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data and planetary resources, 2018.

Week 3 (Feb 18): Data Feminism

Guest Speaker: Catherine D’Ignazio, Assistant Professor of Urban Science & Planning and Director of Data + Feminism Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein. 2020. Introduction: Why Data Science Needs Feminism and The Power Chapter.* In Data Feminism. MIT Press. (PDF)

*Please note both chapters are assigned.

Related Videos:

  • Catherine D’Ignazio on Data Feminism, Feb 18, 2021
  • Joy Buolamwini, Spoken word piece (2 min video) performed at Vision & Justice event at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, April 26, 2019. Founder, Algorithmic Justice League, MIT Media Lab. >> Video
  • Catherine D’Ignazio, Lecture (watch 10 min excerpt from 14:50 onwards) at the Eyeo Festival, 2019. >> Video 
  • Yeshimabeit Milner, Lecture (watch 10 min excerpt from 32:22 onwards) at the Newman Alumni Center, February 21, 2020. Founder of Data for Black Lives. >> Video

Week 4 (Feb 25): Re-imagining AI for the Global South

Guest Speaker: Nithya Sambasivan, Staff Researcher at PAIR and HCI-AI group lead, Google Research India

Sambasivan, N., Arnesen, E., Hutchinson, B., & Prabhakaran, V. Re-imagining Algorithmic Fairness in India and Beyond. ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM FAccT 2021)

Chinmayi Arun. AI and the Global South: Designing for Other Worlds, Forthcoming in Markus D. Dubber, Frank Pasquale, and Sunit Das (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI, Oxford University Press(PDF)

Additional References:

Week 5 (Mar 4): Understanding the Ethics and Politics of AI

Read either report or both for this session.

Additional References:

Related Videos:

Week 6 (Mar 11): AI Ethics in Practice: Designing for Citizens

Guest Speaker: Meeri Haataja, CEO and Co-Founder,

Meeri Haataja, Linda van de Fliert and Pasi Rautio. Public AI Registers: Realising AI transparency and civic participation in government use of AI. Whitepaper Version 1.0,, September, 2020. (PDF)

Drobotowicz, K., Kauppinen, M., Kujala, S., “Trustworthy AI Services in the Public Sector: What Are Citizens Saying about It?” To be published in the Proceedings of the 27th International Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality (REFSQ), April 12-15, 2021. (PDF)

Additional References:

Related Video:

Week 7 (Mar 18): Big Data and AI Surveillance 

Zeynep Tufekci. Engineering the public: Big data, surveillance and computational politicsFirst Monday, Volume 19, Number 7 – 7 July 2014.

Shoshana Zuboff. Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information CivilizationJournal of Information Technology (2015) 30, 75–89. (PDF)

AI Surveillance during Pandemics:

Shachar, C., Gerke, S. and Adashi, E.Y. (2020), AI Surveillance during Pandemics: Ethical Implementation ImperativesHastings Center Report, 50: 18-21. (PDF)

Findlay, Mark James and Loke, Jia Yuan and Remolina, Nydia and Tham, Benjamin, Ethics, AI, Mass Data and Pandemic Challenges: Responsible Data Use and Infrastructure Application for Surveillance and Pre-emptive Tracing Post-crisis (May 4, 2020). SMU Centre for AI & Data Governance Research Paper No. 2020/02. (PDF)

Week 8 (Mar 25): Role of AI in Racial Bias and Discrimination 

Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru. 2018. Gender Shades: Intersectional Accuracy Disparities in Commercial Gender ClassificationProceedings of the 1st Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency, in PMLR 81:77-91. (PDF)

Inioluwa Deborah Raji, Timnit Gebru, Margaret Mitchell, Joy Buolamwini, Joonseok Lee, and Emily Denton. 2020. Saving Face: Investigating the Ethical Concerns of Facial Recognition Auditing. In Proceedings of the AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (AIES ’20). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 145–151. (PDF)

Additional References:

Special Event on March 25: Coded BiasUnmasking the Abuses of Face Recognition Technologies in Society, film screening and panel discussion with filmmaker Shalini Kantayya and Prof. Nitin Sawhney, as part of the Color of Science public series at Aalto University. Register here.

Week 9 (Apr 1): Decolonizing AI and Indigenous Protocols

Jason Edward Lewis, et al. 2020. Indigenous Protocol and Artificial Intelligence Position Paper. Project Report. Indigenous Protocol and Artificial Intelligence Working Group and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Honolulu, HI. (PDF)

Paz Peña and Joana Varon. Decolonising AI: A transfeminist approach to data and social justice, Global Information Society Watch 2019. Artificial intelligence: Human rights, social justice and development. (PDF)

Shakir Mohamed, Marie-Therese Png and William Isaac. 2020. Decolonial AI: Decolonial Theory as Sociotechnical Foresight in Artificial Intelligence. Philosophy and Technology (405). (PDF)

Additional References:

Week 10 (Apr 8): Alternative Futures: Human-Centred AI (HAI) and Civic AI

Guest Speaker: Hariharan Subramonyam, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Michigan, speaking about Centering People in the Design of AI Experiences

Hariharan Subramonyam. 2019. Designing Interactive Intelligent Systems for Human Learning, Creativity, and Sensemaking. In The Adjunct Publication of the 32nd Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST ’19). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 158–161.

Hariharan Subramonyam, Colleen Seifert, and Eytan Adar. (2020, November). ProtoAI: Model-Informed Prototyping for AI-Powered Applications [To Appear IUI’2021]

Open and speculative brainstorming session (using Miro) and course wrap-up discussion on future work. Students interested in writing essays or papers (due April 15) should share working outlines for peer feedback as well.

Additional References:

For more readings and references, check out the Resources section of this site.

Weekly Topic Sessions: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10