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HomeEconomicsSix actions to make belonging actual in tech • The Berkeley Weblog

Six actions to make belonging actual in tech • The Berkeley Weblog


This weblog was authored by UC Berkeley Othering and Belonging consultants Emnet Almedom, Nicole Montojo and Eli Moore. The concepts expressed on this submit are usually not essentially these of the Othering & Belonging Institute or UC Berkeley, however belong to the authors. 

What would it not take to collectively personal our knowledge? How may we regulate the environmental influence of resource-intensive applied sciences? These are simply among the massive questions on know-how dealing with us on a worldwide scale.

In our 2021 panorama scan on the position of synthetic intelligence within the COVID-19 period, we examined options throughout the spectrum from business reform to authorities regulation to neighborhood and employee power-building. This exploratory work makes clear that nobody firm’s need to do good can remedy a structural drawback. The situations that introduced companies, together with know-how corporations, to such energy are formed by public coverage selections – from company tax breaks to anti-worker labor legislation. Thus, the motion to rebuild public energy requires making transformational adjustments within the public sphere.

On this obligatory transition in direction of an financial system that facilities democratic decision-making, care, and ecological flourishing, we are going to all play a job: staff at tech firm headquarters, shoppers and customers of know-how, staff at warehouses, contract and temp staff, and the communities with tech corporations as their neighbors. This displays the fact we see in our day-to-day work alongside a neighborhood of companions throughout California, throughout the nation, and throughout the globe. For instance, in our narrative analysis within the Inland Empire, we level to the work forward to bridge throughout warehouse staff and neighborhood members to search out solidarity for the labor protections wanted for equitable financial growth.

A lot of the work to check equitable futures for the know-how sector precedes us and has particularly been pushed by Black girls, different girls of shade, and others with the lived expertise of being focused, misidentified, or redlined by right this moment’s technological instruments. This consists of the work of students like Safiya Umoja Noble, Sara Roberts, Ruha Benjamin, I’Nasah Crockett, and Sydette Harry, who theorized, foresaw, and instantly skilled these points lengthy earlier than they had been acknowledged by policymakers or business leaders. We wish to raise up some examples of such work as highly effective sources to find out about visionary organizing, analysis, and coalition-building in direction of a tech sector rooted in belonging values. You’ll see a full checklist of our really helpful readings and explorations on the backside of this web page.

However after all we wish to provide a tl;dr (too lengthy; didn’t learn) model to encourage you to dig deeper into among the visions! We raise up these six actions to make belonging actual in tech as a beginning checklist of coverage, solidarity-building, and democratic power-building options from our experience as social scientists and community-engaged researchers with a concentrate on structural racism.

  1. Implement equitable regional growth for shared prosperity. Within the areas the place Google and different massive tech companies have developed their operations, the financial advantages have been erratically distributed. Housing costs have dramatically elevated, whereas wages of many staff in a roundabout way employed in tech have stayed low. The immense wealth that these tech companies have amassed must be put towards reasonably priced housing, be certain that staff not directly employed have residing wages and advantages, and in different methods help equitable growth. A transparent neighborhood imaginative and prescient for the way this may have a look at Google’s proposed new campus was put ahead by native neighborhood leaders and, after 4 years of organizing, Silicon Valley Rising negotiated neighborhood advantages. The work forward in Silicon Valley and different areas the place tech corporations broaden is for communities to have true governing energy over neighborhood advantages.
  2. Spend money on neighborhood and collective well-being somewhat than surveillance applied sciences that preserve buildings that “different.” In 2020, tech corporations like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google heeded long-time calls that they pause the sale of facial recognition know-how to legislation enforcement. However we will and will transcend an opt-in mannequin for severe, world-shifting selections on the proliferation of harmful surveillance applied sciences. Firms and governments investing within the manufacturing, enchancment, and dissemination of surveillance applied sciences are profiting from present breakages in our society: breakages on who’s totally seen as human and deserving of care. The Algorithmic Justice League (AJL) – led by laptop scientist Pleasure Buolamwini who co-authored a ground-breaking research on the inaccuracy of facial recognition know-how – has collected case research of resisting surveillance know-how and proposals for constructing public oversight.
  3. Construct transnational and cross-sector bridges to finish army and police profiteering. Campaigns similar to #NoTechForICE and #NoTechforApartheid make it clear that seemingly administrative selections, like immigration enforcement shopping for cloud applied sciences, are instruments to broaden historic criminalization of Black, immigrant, and displaced communities similar to Palestinians. These campaigns construct bridges and energy to name tech corporations to account. College students are organizing from their place of relative energy because the recruits of Large Tech corporations to demand a halt to practices similar to ICE and native police data-sharing that undermines sanctuary metropolis agreements.
  4. Create various public, not-for-profit, or worker-owned digital infrastructure in direction of the general public good. As an alternative of right this moment’s mannequin of extracting knowledge for revenue, what if we democratized management of our knowledge and the infrastructure for know-how creation? Customers and technologists worldwide may have the entry to develop options to right this moment’s dominant platforms. We may have the liberty to form our personal social media feeds. Demos and Knowledge For Black Lives’ report on knowledge capitalism examines a number of proposals to withstand knowledge extraction and reclaim knowledge as a instrument for social change.
  5. Elevate federal and state labor requirements for temp staff and help tech temp employee organizing. Greater than half of Google’s workforce around the globe consists of short-term, vendor, or contracted staff; a proportion that has steadily climbed because the firm was based. Contractors and workers are topic to a two-tier system of unequal therapy. This unequal therapy takes many types, together with substandard pay and advantages, vulnerability to discrimination and sexual harassment, and hyper-precarious employment, which makes the chance of retaliation for talking out acute. Employee-organizers at Temp Employee Justice and labor legislation students on the Nationwide Employment Regulation Mission (NELP) joined forces to make the case for constructing cross-racial solidarity and collective energy in direction of higher situations for all staff.
  6. Shield whistleblowers of their efforts to talk up on moral points inside their office and past. Workers with computational experience and insider data are uniquely certified to know and expose violations of civil and human rights embedded in opaque synthetic intelligence (AI) instruments. Oftentimes, the staff who expose these violations – typically individuals of shade or individuals with disabilities who’re uniquely certified to determine harms – are then topic to retaliation from their employer or from fellow workers. Former and present tech staff have advocated for obligatory protections, such because the regulation of tech corporations’ abuse of non-disparagement agreements (NDAs) through the Silenced No Extra Act.

Our Studying Checklist

Need to dig deeper? Take a look at our checklist of really helpful readings.

  • Simply Tech on the Social Science Analysis Council on Data Expertise and Incapacity Justice in the USA – This evaluate discusses entry to knowledge and know-how for individuals with disabilities, specializing in company and digital transinstitutionalization—the extension of institutional frameworks, similar to surveillance and management, from state hospitals into neighborhood settings through data-driven applied sciences.
  • Astraea Lesbian Basis for Justice’s Applied sciences for Liberation: Fund Abolitionist Futures – This report lifts up the facility of motion constructing and the methods wherein organizers are innovating to create protected applied sciences and methods for the individuals they serve, centering QT2SBIPOC communities.
  • The Disinformation Protection League Coverage Platform – The Disinformation Protection League’s strategic set of options to quell disinformation and construct a media ecosystem that serves the general public curiosity by selling correct information and knowledge, defending civil and human rights, and fostering an knowledgeable, equitable citizens throughout all languages.
  • Knowledge Capitalism and Algorithmic Racism – Demos and Knowledge For Black Lives unpack how corporations use knowledge to protect the facility imbalance that retains them wealthy. This financial mannequin is rooted in chattel slavery and depends on the extraction and commodification of knowledge. Options embrace beginning with knowledge transparency as a primary stage aim, however acknowledge the boundaries of transparency and the significance of energy distribution.
  • Proudly owning Ethics: Company Logics, Silicon Valley, and the Institutionalization of Ethics – Based mostly on interviews with key informants outlined as “proudly owning ethics” of their tech group, this critiques the effectiveness of ethics, fairness, and equity objectives and makes the argument for centering human and civil rights. There’s a number of references to the shortage of a regulatory response from the federal government as a serious pressure shaping the logics of ethics work inside corporations.
  • Non-public Accountability within the Age of Synthetic Intelligence – OBI College Scholar Sonia Katyal’s reflection and authorized evaluation on the paths ahead for business reform, together with the position of codes of conduct, influence statements, and whistleblower protections to advertise accountability from inside personal companies.
  • The Refusal Convention: A Studying Checklist – A studying checklist composed by members at the Refusal Convention hosted by UC Berkeley’s Algorithmic Equity and Opacity Group (AFOG) on the historical past of and fashions exemplifying refusal of sure applied sciences or purposes in pursuit of a extra simply and equitable society.
  • Ours to Hack and to Personal: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Imaginative and prescient for the Way forward for Work and a Fairer Web – The activists who’ve put collectively Ours to Hack and to Personal argue for a brand new sort of on-line financial system: platform cooperativism, which mixes the wealthy heritage of cooperatives with the promise of Twenty first-century applied sciences, free from monopoly, exploitation, and surveillance.

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