In the world of improved communication and faster access to information, it is important for us to know the boundaries and to look after our privacy as we often fall prey to the hands of constant monitoring of artificial intelligence and algorithms. This can be a threat to our civil rights and the right to privacy. To enlighten on this topic, Northeastern University hosted an event titled “A Tribute to the Dream: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” on January 16th, 2020.
The president of Northeastern, Joseph E. Aoun and the University Distinguished Professor of Law and Humanities, Patricia J. Williams had a discussion on accountability and responsibility in the digital age which touched many corners of this issue starting from the exploitation and the invasions of our privacy to the unconscious biases of many consumers based on race. Williams mentioned that “the digital age is reclassifying people as consumers and creating new social hierarchies that are essentially soulless” and “algorithms leave us in the dark about how we’re being judged or sorted, or for what purposes” to what the president suggested to use the AI for better causes and handle it with responsibility.
Robert Jose, Northeastern’s associate dean for cultural, residential, and spiritual life was also present at the event and spoke of Dr Kings’ dream of equal human rights. Jose spoke on the importance of amalgamation of freedom and justice as suggested by Dr. Martin Luther King in his days but the algorithm-driven technology has made the unconscious biases on various platforms resurface which are against the force of King’s campaign. Venkat Kuppuswamy, a Northeastern assistant professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, also published a study based on these prejudices and biases.
Northeastern University’s upcoming project on this issue, named Northeastern 2025 was supported by Williams as it emphasises the human intelligence and skills termed as humanics and prepares their students to thrive in the age of artificial intelligence. It also evaluates the meaning of being a human which is similar to the dynamics of King’s struggle.