Public Humanities AI Lab

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To develop community-engaged teaching practices that see campus and communities as co-learners of AI as a skill and co-teachers of what AI can be.

Welcome to the PHAI Lab!

We (I say we, but really it's just me right now) are an inter-disciplinary lab, seeking folks ranging from computer scientists to public artists to legal scholars! Our research and public projects investigate and expand upon the idea, how do communities learn about AI? From Google's AIY, to Kaggle's online data science community, to Madison's own DevTogether mentorship community, the barriers for the public to learn AI—really learn AI—keep getting lower and lower everyday! But the public learns about AI in less positive ways too, such as through automated content moderation, the justice system, and biases in security systems. We also can't forget the role that media plays on public conception of AI: movies, anime, books, and even stories that we share continue to reproduce and readapt the image of the "artificial man" or "artificial intelligence." Learning about AI can also be learning about what it means to be human.

We believe that the public holds knowledge, and that this knowledge is valuable just as academic and professional knowledge are valuable. In fact, the three often work in concert and are inseperable from one another. We also believe that, because the barriers to AI are lowering everyday, the public gains more ability to say what that technology can be used for. Perhaps it's an AI-controlled train set, or a human/machine collaborative art piece for a high school art class, or even an analysis of your favorite sport team, or just plain understanding of the data concepts behind today's increasingly ubiquitous algorithms. Whatever it is, we believe that the school and the public can learn and teach one another—or as we like to say, to co-learn and to co-teach—the skills and knowledge necessary to leverage AI, and the kinds of projects and affordances AI makes possible.