AI in the City: New Open Access Publication in Three Languages

July 20, 2022

AI in the CityFor over a decade, Jess Reia (Assistant Professor of Data Science, University of Virginia) and Ana Brandusescu (Department of Geography, McGill University) worked across various countries in organizations that focused on digital policy and the impacts of data on society. In 2020, they joined efforts to create a space that offers possibilities for engagement with other scholars, advocates and practitioners helping to shape the future of technology in urban areas.

The project “Artificial Intelligence in the City: Building Civic Engagement and Public Trust” was developed, simultaneously and remotely, at the University of Virginia and McGill University with the support from the McConnell Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The idea behind this project was to echo the importance of creating spaces for people, communities, ideas, and organizations that often do not have a seat at the tables where most decision-making on technology and data-centric systems occurs.

The focus on civil society and academia was deliberate as a way to listen to and learn with people who have dedicated many years to public interest advocacy, governance and policy that represents the interests of their communities. In February 2021, the “AI in the City” symposium took place remotely, with open panels and closed roundtables (you can watch the panels here). To keep the conversation going, Reia and Bradusescu co-led the publication of an open-access collection of essays, “Artificial Intelligence in the City: Building Civic Engagement and Public Trust”, available in three languages (English, French, and Spanish), showcasing the multiple perspectives of the symposium and building upon the expertise of all speakers, contributors, and participants.

The publication, launched in July 2022, features essays from 40 experts from five continents on:

1. Meaningful engagement and public participation

2. Addressing inequalities and building trust

3. Public and private boundaries in tech policy,

4. Legal perspectives and mechanisms for accountability

5. New directions for local and urban governance

“AI in the City” is designed to become a resource for a broad audience with different backgrounds, skills, and interests. From classrooms and research projects to policymaking and activism, the co-editors hope the thoughts and strategies shared will help people reflect upon the challenges and opportunities of deploying AI and data-centric systems in cities worldwide.