The social problems artists and activists often seek to address are complex and resist change. If we are interested in optimizing creative work for social change effects, Harmony Labs believes an opportunity exists to integrate data-driven insights around audience, narratives, and story opportunities. Innovative approaches to measuring — and increasing — impact will further strengthen media making practices.
Over the last four years we’ve had the opportunity to explore this intersection of art, advocacy, and data science in support of the Mozilla Foundation’s Creative Media Awards program, where we’ve been lucky enough to share some of our research and impact design practices with an array of gifted media makers. Last week, we were particularly excited to kick off work with the 2021 cohort, which includes eight new projects examining AI’s relationship with racial justice. From Mozilla’s blog post announcing this year’s awardees:
Today, the AI systems in our everyday lives can perpetuate and amplify biases that have long existed offline: Recommendation algorithms promote racist messages. Facial recognition systems misidentify Black faces. And voice assistants like Alexa and Siri struggle to understand Black voices. As the AI in consumer technology grows more sophisticated and prevalent, problems like these will grow even more complex.
This talented group of artists, technologists, and activists are developing a range of projects to tackle these issues, from apps, to short films, to new datasets.
Harmony’s role, led by Impact Producers Jennifer MacArthur and Brett Gaylor, is working directly with awardees to provide a landscape analysis of key audiences for their work and current narrative and story opportunities for AI. We’ll be hosting a series of workshops with subject matter experts to help inform the creative process, an impact design curriculum to maximize the efficacy of their work, and media effects testing to help awardees fine-tune the final products.
In our time working with Mozilla on this program, we’ve been fortunate to support dozens of brilliant artists and projects, and we always end up learning as much from them as they do from us. Given the caliber of this year’s cohort and the critical nature of the issues they will be exploring, this year is shaping up to be no exception. We will provide progress updates as we go and, most importantly, let you know when these projects launch later this year.