Professor and Chair of Inclusive AI Cultures Utrecht University

About Payal

Dr. Payal Arora is a Professor of Inclusive AI Cultures at Utrecht University and co-founder of FemLab, a feminist futures of work initiative. She is the author of award-winning books including ‘The Next Billion Users’ with Harvard Press. About 150 international media outlets have covered her work including The BBC, Financial Times, and The Economist. She has consulted on how to build inclusive designs and policies based on two decades of user-experiences among marginalized communities worldwide for organizations including UNHCR, UNESCO, Spotify, KPMG, Adobe, and GE.

The Talk

Pessimism to Promise: Shifting attitudes to design inclusive tech

When it comes to technology, the mainstream headlines are bleak: Algorithms control and oppress. AI will destroy democracy and our social fabric, and possibly even drive us to extinction. 

While legitimate concerns drive these fears, we need to equally account for the fact that technology affords young people something incredibly valuable; a rare space for self-actualization. In this talk, Payal Arora explains that, outside the West, where 90 percent of the world’s youth reside, there is a significant different outlook on technology: in fact, there is a contagion of optimism toward all things digital. 

As AI disrupts sectors across industries, education, and beyond, who better to shine the light forward than the Global South, the navigators of all manner of forced disruptions, leapfrogging obstructive systems, norms, and practices to rapidly reinvent themselves? 

Drawing on field insights in diverse global contexts such as Brazil, India, and Bangladesh, this talk reveals what drives Gen Z to embrace new technologies. Arora argues that we need to take heart in the power in numbers, as the users from the majority world infuse algorithms with everyday aspirations, pushing for a new digital order. It is not naïve to be optimistic about our digital future. On the contrary, it is our moral imperative to design with hope.

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