Participatory Methods in AI Research (a.k.a. Everything You Always Wanted to Ask About Using Participatory Methods in Your Work)
Participatory Methods in AI research--a.k.a. everything you always wanted to ask about using participatory methods in your work--is an interactive workshop. We aim to bring together those interested in, or already using, participatory methods in AI research to share and explore assumptions and experiences in this area, and to collaboratively challenge competing values around using participatory methods. In doing so, we hope to foster community building around the important issues that participatory methods can give rise to, and to foster cooperative knowledge production, and the potential for future engagement on the subject. This interactive workshop is intended to deepen conversation and practice about how participatory methods and citizen science can be utilized to bring citizen voices to a range of ML fairness issues in meaningful, sustainable, and equitable ways. This includes not only questions of design, but issues of problem-framing, such as deciding which technological systems ought to be developed; countering narrow logics of technological solutionism when addressing complex social problems; and assessment processes, such as community tracking of impacts of technological systems. In addition, we will explore community participation in “meta” ethics discussions of the kind that happen at FAccT. We will prioritize an opportunity for participants to share and explore starting assumptions around participatory methods. The workshop invites participants to share their experiences with participatory methods and/or their ideas for applying participatory methods to their work, and interrogate their research process in an open, supportive and collaborative forum. We ask workshop participants to come with concrete projects and problems in mind, as this is not meant to be an abstract conversation. Rather, our activities and discussions will have a strong on-the-ground focus, while remaining contextualized in high-level considerations of inclusion and justice. Activities will focus on collaborating with other workshop participants on problem-solving strategies their participatory approaches face. As part of the workshop, we will offer our “emojify project” as a case study and discuss our insights and lessons learned in designing a public-facing, interactive website that utilises citizen social science to engage the public in learning about emotion recognition systems. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a more nuanced understanding of participatory processes and citizen social science. For example, they will understand the “spectrum of participation” and applications of “citizen science” and “citizen social science.” They will also have a clearer understanding of dynamics of power and potential limitations of participatory methods. They will be familiar with case studies and examples of how participatory processes have been applied to better understand and address complex social issues. Furthermore, they will have considered in detail some of the challenges their own participatory projects face, and have collaborated with other workshop participants on problem-solving strategies. Finally, we hope that workshop participants will continue to collaborate with each other and stay in conversation moving forward.