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Foreword: Feminist AI in South East Asia

Feminist AI in Southeast Asia

Published onMay 12, 2024
Foreword: Feminist AI in South East Asia

This collection of articles, originally written both in English and in Thai, are some of the products of effort of many scholars in Thailand and the Philippines, who collaborated on how to find ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) could promote gender equality in the context of Southeast Asia. The Thai articles have been translated into English for this Pubpub collection. Broadly construed, feminist AI means the kind of AI that is conducive to creating a social and cultural environment in which women are empowered, and in which the conditions under which women live are such that they can function as equals and to the full extent of their capabilities. We cannot deny that AI has become one of the most, if not the most, significant technological tools that have emerged in recent years. Given its tremendous power, it is necessary for there to be a concerted global effort to think deeply about how this power could be harnessed to create goods for society. These goods are not only limited to material ones, but at least equally important are the social and cultural goods that AI could promote through its adaptation and roles. This represents a serious challenge, for modern AI, being an algorithmic tool that functions on analyzing and processing a large amount of data, does not seem to be the kind of tool that could promote such socio-cultural conditions. Nonetheless, we believe that AI is capable of meeting the challenge, and the papers in the volume represent some tentative first steps toward that direction.

            This work is part of the activities of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University (CSTS). There are eight articles in the collection; six of them are in English and two are in Thai. There is a plan that the Thai articles will be translated into English to benefit the international audience. The authors of these articles responded to a call for papers that was issued early in 2022 for papers that answers to the challenges mentioned above. Publication of this volume is part of the “Incubating Feminist AI Project” (https://aplusalliance.org/), an international research and development project led by the A+ Alliance, a group of researchers and scientists who agree that the power of AI should be harnessed to create these beneficial social and cultural conditions, as well as the material impact on how AI itself is created so that it becomes part of the conditions. The Project is supported by a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and is led by the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (Tecnológico de Costa Rica), and Women at the Table. Several research institutes throughout the world, including the CSTS, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico, and the Jordan Open Source Association.

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