IRL was nominated for an Anthem Award! Can you help us celebrate by voting for us? Just go to https://mzl.la/anthem - then find IRL and vote. Voting is open until Thursday Dec 21st. Thank you so much for your help. How does artificial intelligence change when people — not profit — truly come first? Join IRL’s host Bridget Todd, as she meets people around the world building responsible alternatives to the tech that’s changing how we work, communicate, and even listen to music.
The Art of AI
24:08From Hollywood to Hip Hop, artists are negotiating new boundaries of consent for use of AI in the creative industries. Bridget Todd speaks to artists who are pushing the boundaries.It’s not the first time artists have been squeezed, but generative AI presents new dilemmas. In this episode: a member of the AI working group of the Hollywood writers union; a singer who licenses the use of her voice to others; an emcee and professor of Black music; and an AI music company charting a different path.Van Robichaux is a comedy writer in Los Angeles who helped craft the Writers Guild of America’s proposals on managing AI in the entertainment industry. Holly Herndon is a Berlin-based artist and a computer scientist who has developed “Holly +”, a series of deep fake music tools for making music with Holly’s voice.Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo creates video games and studies the intersection between AI and Hip Hop at Brown University. Her alias as a rapper is Sammus. Rory Kenny is co-founder and CEO of Loudly, an AI music generator platform that employs musicians to train their AI instead of scraping music from the internet.*Thank you to Sammus for sharing her track ‘1080p.’ Visit Sammus’ Bandcamp page to hear the full track and check out more of her songs.*
Lend Me Your Voice
22:35Big tech’s power over language, means power over people. Bridget Todd talks to AI community leaders paving the way for open voice tech in their own languages and dialects.In this episode: AI builders and researchers in the US, Kenya and New Zealand who say the languages computers learn to recognize today will be the ones that survive tomorrow — as long as communities and local startups can defend their data rights from big AI companies.Halcyon Lawrence was an Associate Professor of Technical Communication and Information Design at Towson University in Maryland (via Trinidad and Tobago) who did everything Alexa told her to for a year.*Keoni Mahelona is a leader of Indigenous data rights and chief technology officer of Te Hiku Media, a Māori community media network with 21 local radio stations in New Zealand. Kathleen Siminyu is an AI grassroots community leader in Kenya and a machine learning fellow with Mozilla’s Common Voice working on Kiswahili voice projects. IRL: Online Life is Real Life is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 7, host Bridget Todd talks to AI builders that put people ahead of profit.*Sadly, following the recording of this episode, Dr. Halcyon Lawrence passed away. We are glad to have met her and pay tribute to her legacy as a researcher and educator. Thank you, Halcyon.
Crash Test Dummies
22:27Why does it so often feel like we’re part of a mass AI experiment? What is the responsible way to test new technologies? Bridget Todd explores what it means to live with unproven AI systems that impact millions of people as they roll out across public life. In this episode: a visit to San Francisco, a major hub for automated vehicle testing; an exposé of a flawed welfare fraud prediction algorithm in a Dutch city; a look at how companies comply with regulations in practice; and how to inspire alternative values for tomorrow’s AI.Julia Friedlander is senior manager for automated driving policy at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency who wants to see AVs regulated based on safety performance data.Justin-Casimir Braun is a data journalist at Lighthouse Reports who is investigating suspect algorithms for predicting welfare fraud across Europe. Navrina Singh is the founder and CEO of Credo AI, a platform that guides enterprises on how to ‘govern’ their AI responsibly in practice.Suresh Venkatasubramanian is the director of the Center for Technological Responsibility, Reimagination, and Redesign at Brown University and he brings joy to computer science. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 7, host Bridget Todd shares stories about prioritizing people over profit in the context of AI.
The Humans in the Machine
21:41They’re the essential workers of AI — yet mostly invisible and exploited. Does it have to be this way? Bridget Todd talks to data workers and entrepreneurs pushing for change.Millions of people work on data used to train AI behind the scenes. Often, they are underpaid and even traumatized by what they see. In this episode: a company charting a different path; a litigator holding big tech accountable; and data workers organizing for better conditions.Thank you to Foxglove and Superrr for sharing recordings from the the Content Moderators Summit in Nairobi, Kenya in May, 2023.Richard Mathenge helped establish a union for content moderators after surviving a traumatic experience as a contractor in Kenya training Open AI’s ChatGPT.Mercy Mutemi is a litigator for digital rights in Kenya who has issued challenges to some of the biggest global tech companies on behalf of hundreds of data workers.Krista Pawloski is a full time data worker on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform and is an organizer with the worker-led advocacy group, Turkopticon.Safiya Husain is the co-founder of Karya, a company in India with an alternative business model to compensate data workers at rates that reflect the high value of the data.IRL: Online Life is Real Life is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 7, host Bridget Todd talks to AI builders that put people ahead of profit.
With AIs Wide Open
22:01Are today’s large language models too hot to handle? Bridget Todd digs into the risks and rewards of open sourcing the tech that makes ChatGPT talk.In their competitive rush to release powerful LLMs to the world, tech companies are fueling a controversy about what should and shouldn’t be open in generative AI.In this episode, we meet open source research communities who have stepped up to develop more responsible machine learning alternatives.David Evan Harris worked at Meta to make AI more responsible and now shares his concerns about the risks of open large language models for disinformation and more. Abeba Birhane is a Mozilla advisor and cognitive scientist who calls for openness to facilitate independent audits of large datasets sourced from the internet. Sasha Luccioni is a researcher and climate lead at Hugging Face who says open source communities are key to developing ethical and sustainable machine learning.Andriy Mulyar is co-founder and CTO of Nomic, the startup behind the open source chatbot GPT4All, an offline and private alternative to ChatGPT.IRL: Online Life is Real Life is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 7, host Bridget Todd talks to AI builders that put people ahead of profit.
We’re Back! IRL Season 7: People Over Profit
1:33This season, IRL host Bridget Todd meets people who are balancing the upsides of artificial intelligence with the downsides that are coming into view worldwide. Stay tuned for the first of five biweekly episodes on October 10! IRL is an original podcast from the non-profit Mozilla.
The AI Medicine Cabinet
25:55Life, death and data. AI’s capacity to support research on human health is well documented. But so are the harms of biased datasets and misdiagnoses. How can AI developers build healthier systems? We take a look at a new dataset for Black skin health, a Covid chatbot in Rwanda, AI diagnostics in rural India, and elusive privacy in mental health apps.Avery Smith is a software engineer in Maryland who lost his wife to skin cancer. This inspired him to create the Black Skin Health AI Dataset and the web app, Melalogic.Remy Muhire works on open source speech recognition software in Rwanda, including a Covid-19 chatbot, Mbaza, which 2 million people have used so far.Radhika Radhakrishnan is a feminist scholar who studies how AI diagnostic systems are deployed in rural India by tech companies and hospitals, as well as the limits of consent.Jen Caltrider is the lead investigator on a special edition of Mozilla’s “Privacy Not Included” buyer’s guide that investigated the privacy and security of mental health apps.IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 6, host Bridget Todd shares stories of people who make AI more trustworthy in real life. This season doubles as Mozilla’s 2022 Internet Health Report. Go to the report for show notes, transcripts, and more.
The Truth is Out There
21:54Murky political groups are exploiting social media systems to spread disinformation. With important elections taking place around the world this year, who is pushing back? We meet grassroots groups in Africa and beyond who are using AI to tackle disinformation in languages and countries underserved by big tech companies.Justin Arenstein is the founder of Code for Africa, an organization that works with newsrooms across 21 countries to fact check, track and combat the global disinformation industry.Tarunima Prabhakar builds tools and datasets to respond to online misinformation in India, as co-founder of the open-source technology community, Tattle.Sahar Massachi was a data engineer at Facebook and now leads the Integrity Institute, a new network for people who work on integrity teams at social media companies. Raashi Saxena in India was the global project coordinator of Hatebase, a crowdsourced repository of online hate speech in 98 languages, run by the Sentinel Project. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 6, host Bridget Todd shares stories of people who make AI more trustworthy in real life. This season doubles as Mozilla’s 2022 Internet Health Report. Go to the report for show notes, transcripts, and more.
AI from Above
22:00An aerial picture can tell a thousand stories. But who gets to tell them? From above the clouds, our world is surveilled and datafied. Those who control the data, control the narratives. We explore the legacy of spatial apartheid in South Africa’s townships, and hear from people around the world who are reclaiming power over their own maps.Raesetje Sefala is mapping the legacy of spatial apartheid in South Africa as a computer vision researcher with Timnit Gebru’s Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR).Astha Kapoor researches how communities and organizations can be ‘stewards’ of data about people and places as co-founder of the Aapti Institute in India.Michael Running Wolf is the founder of Indigenous in AI. He is working on speech recognition and immersive spatial experiences with augmented and virtual reality in Canada.Denise McKenzie is a location data expert who works with the global mapping organization PLACE to empower governments and communities to use advanced spatial data.IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 6, host Bridget Todd shares stories of people who make AI more trustworthy in real life. This season doubles as Mozilla’s 2022 Internet Health Report. Go to the report for show notes, transcripts, and more.
When an Algorithm is Your Boss
20:23Gig workers around the world report directly to algorithms in precarious jobs created by secretive corporations. We take you to the streets of Quito, Ecuador where delivery workers are protesting against artificial intelligence, and we hear solutions from people in several countries on how to audit the algorithms and reclaim rights.Eduardo Meneses is gearing up with allies to ‘audit the algorithms’ of delivery platforms in Ecuador as the Global Head of Social Change at Thoughtworks.Dan Calacci at the MIT Media Lab is developing open source tools and systems that empower workers to take control of their data.Aída Ponce Del Castillo is working on AI regulation to protect the rights of platform workers as a lawyer with the European Trade Union Institute in Brussels.Yuly Ramirez is the general secretary of a coalition of digital platform workers in Ecuador and José Gonzalez is a delivery driver in Quito, Ecuador.IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 6, host Bridget Todd shares stories of people who make AI more trustworthy in real life. This season doubles as Mozilla’s 2022 Internet Health Report. Go to the report for show notes, transcripts, and more.