Towards Culturally Aware Artificial Intelligence

Talk by Aditya Vashistha (Computing & Information Science, Cornell University)

AI technologies are becoming increasingly pervasive in our daily lives, impacting diverse areas such as healthcare diagnosis and online content moderation. However, these technologies often overlook the voices and viewpoints of historically marginalized communities in South Asian settings. Instead of promoting inclusivity, current AI systems unintentionally reinforce power imbalances, prioritize Western norms, and neglect minoritized expressions. Through concrete examples from our work across various domains, including content moderation, addressing ableism, countering misinformation, and advancing frontline healthcare, I will illustrate how current AI technologies fall short in representing the cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic diversity found in South Asia. Furthermore, I will propose essential steps that we must take to develop Culturally Aware AI so that its benefits are derived equitably by everyone in the world.

Aditya Vashistha is an Assistant Professor of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University. He also holds faculty fellow positions at Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, the Digital Life Initiative, Cornell Center for Health Equity, Cornell Center for Social Sciences, and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. His research focuses on designing and evaluating technologies that contribute to the socioeconomic development of underserved communities in low-resource environments. His current work aims to (1) combat misinformation and hate speech in low-income communities and (2) design responsible AI systems for high-stakes settings. He has co-authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications, including several best paper awards at premier venues. Vashistha’s work has received numerous awards, including a USAID Seed Grant, Facebook Access Innovation Prize, Facebook Fellowship, UW College of Engineering Award, and Google and Microsoft Faculty Research Awards. He earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington, where his dissertation received recognition through the William Chan Memorial Dissertation Award and the WAGS/ProQuest Innovation in Technology Award.

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