How to think about inclusion in tech, with Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Part 2)

Technology is very much in the business of, quite literally, changing the world. When I was deciding whether to write for TechCrunch, I tried to imagine a human life on this planet, in 20 or 30 years, that would not have been dramatically impacted in one way or another by the new technologies we’re creating today.

I couldn’t picture such a person, so I decided this ongoing series on tech ethics was the right thing to do with my time.

Below is the second part of my interview with Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a brilliant young author, activist, and the first Black woman in history to hold a faculty position in theoretical cosmology.

Her work critically analyzing the politics of the science world seems particularly salient to the tech world generally and to the world of tech ethics in particular: for example, Stanford recently launched an enormous new initiative in ethical technology, the “Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI),” which boasts plans for a billion dollar investment in making AI “representative of humanity.”

Yet among the 121 HAI faculty members initially announced this March, it has been much discussed that the overwhelming majority were white, most were male, and not a single one was Black. In part one of my dialogue with Prescod-Weinstein, we discussed decolonization and intersectionality; here I’ll begin by asking her about inclusion.

Greg E.: How is the science world doing, in terms of creating an inclusive culture?

Chanda P.W.: I’ve got mixed feelings about the question of inclusion. We need to ask ourselves what our aims are and where we’re going with this. I don’t necessarily think that tokens solve the problem.