In this conversation, Dr Andrea Medrado and Mathias Felipe de Lima Santos interrogate ideas of artificial intelligence (AI) for social good, drawing inspiration from Participatory Action Research (PAR) and the work of Latin American thinkers such as Freire and Fals Borda. Medrado presents data from the project and paper “AI for Social Good?” co-authored with Dr Pieter Verdegem. For the project, participatory workshops were conducted in London with a group of students, activists and tech workers. In the paper, Medrado and Verdegem analyse two transversal themes – AI for Social Good? And Decolonial Perspectives of AI – and delve into three concepts – autonomy, empathy and dialogue. They propose a South-North flow and utilise PAR approaches that stem from Latin America. This is an attempt to challenge the ways in which the North’s centrality is taken for granted when it comes to epistemologies, experiences, and pieces of knowledge related to AI. They argue that PAR can not only empower marginalised communities in the Global South; we can also learn more from its application in the Global North, in contexts where people deal with different struggles. Yet, there are constraints in applying PAR. These are related to how scholarship is organised in the Global North, often with the aim to generate top-down impact, which stands in opposition to the open agenda and bottom-up approach of PAR. Still, much can be learned from this research journey. Inspired by Fals Borda’s (2003) “sentipensante” notion, they embrace an “epistle-method-philosophical” approach in which making, thinking and feelings are all combined. Rather than following the AI hype, we argue that more is to be learned from everyday AI stories, which we must tell, listen to and share in pluriversal ways.
Dr Andrea Medrado is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster in the UK and a member of CAMRI (The Communication and Media Research Institute). She also worked as an Associate Professor at the Federal Fluminense University in Brazil. Andrea is the Principal Investigator for the project “AI for Social Good?”, funded by UKRI and by the University of Westminster’s Diversity and Inclusion Research Community. She was the Co-I for the “e-Voices Redressing Marginality” Network (Arts and Humanities Research Council, ARHC). She is currently the Vice President of the International Communication and Media Research Association (IAMCR). Her first book “Media Activism, Artivism and the Fight Against Marginalisation in the Global South: South-to-South Communication”, has just been published by Routledge.