Data for Black Lives at MIT Media Lab

A number of conversations and convenings have shaped my thinking on race and tech over the last few years – the Institute for Advanced Study School of Social Science 2016–17 cohort and especially Didier Fassin, who welcomed my question at the Harry’s Bar Conversation series “Are Robots Racist?” – a ten-minute provocation turned into a two-year project; all those gathered at the inaugural conference Data for Black Lives at MIT Media Lab, especially Yeshimabeit Milner, Lucas Mason-Brown, Max Clermont, and Nana Younge for inviting me and the ancestors into that space; those gathered for the Data & Society Research Institute’s Small Group Session, especially Joan Donovan and Mutali Nkonde, who pushed my ideas forward on a number of fronts; and all the students and colleagues who raised questions during talks at the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication, Harvey Mudd Nelson Distinguished Lecture Series, and UC San Diego Science Studies Student Choice Speaker Event, especially Rachel Fox and Alanna Reyes for organizing my visit.

At Princeton I am incredibly thankful to Chloe Bakalar, Edward Felten, Melissa Lane, and Bendert Zevenbergen for inviting me to take part in a series of workshops and conferences on AI and ethics organized by the University Center for Human Values and by the Center for Information Technology Policy, and to Tithi Chattopadhyay for all her behind-the-scenes work to make these convenings happen. The latter two also contributed to the publication costs of this book, for which I am very grateful.

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I received invaluable feedback from the 2018 African American Studies Faculty–Graduate Seminar participants, especially the discussants Shreya Subramani and Fatima Siwaju; from my accomplices in the writing workshop hosted by Wendy Belcher, who provided just the boost of energy I needed to finish a first draft of the manuscript over the summer; from attendees at the StudioLab “Rethinking Mass Incarceration” Design Challenge workshop, especially Sharon De La Cruz and Aatish Bhatia, who created such an important space on campus; and from students at the AI4All Summer Program, whose dynamism gives me hope! Finally, I am deeply appreciative of Princeton’s Center for Digital Humanities for awarding me a faculty fellowship that gave me time to finish the book.

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