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Statement by PAI’s Executive Director on Black Lives Matter and Systemic Racism

The Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society (PAI) stands with communities mourning the victims of police brutality and homicide in the United States. We mourn alongside you. Because of both recent events and a long history of trauma, our Black communities, friends, and colleagues are hurting deeply. We are outraged and in anguish about what we have seen unfold. Division and injustice have been on full display in many ways over the last several weeks, a product of generations-long structural racism which compounds so many other challenges that Black communities in our society face. All the while, situated as the backdrop for this trauma has been a pandemic which has disproportionately impacted Black communities and communities of color.

The Partnership was founded to bring a wide range of viewpoints into conversation with one another so that we may generate collective outcomes that ultimately make technology more just, fair, and inclusive for all people. The violence on display in our communities against Black lives and in just protests across America in the last several days relates deeply and precisely back to what we here at the Partnership have an obligation to remain focused on every day: “ethical AI,” or “responsible AI” cannot exist without equity, which needs to be at the core of decisions we make about how we design and deploy technology, who it is designed by, and who it is designed for.

Algorithmic decision making–in its development, deployment, and evolution across countless domains–disproportionately negatively impacts Black individuals and people of color. These issues span criminal legal and police reform, housing justice, financial access, information access, equitable participation and representation in the technology community, and much, much more.

Working towards equity is a project that requires all of us. It is my obligation and all of our obligation as members of this community to do everything we can to contribute to it. At PAI we are thinking hard and critically about our role in helping to do so, and what more we need to do as an organization, as individuals, and as a community to help meet that important commitment. It is most especially the responsibility of those with privilege to dismantle and abolish systems of oppression, and the impacts they have, in the spaces we occupy each and every day. We have a long way to go.

We will continue to develop and deepen meaningful ways for PAI to use our voice, platform and resources to fight injustice, and to support our allies working for justice across other domains on shared priorities and challenges. These questions are as much about what world we want to build as what world we do not. Black lives matter, today and every day. We stand with those fighting for justice and equity and upholding anti-racism, and pledge to fight for it and uphold it ourselves