Reclaiming artificial intelligence accounts: A plea for a participatory turn in artificial intelligence inquiries

Pauline Gourlet, Donato Ricci, Maxime Crépel: Reclaiming artificial intelligence accounts: A plea for a participatory turn in artificial intelligence inquiries. In: Big Data & Society, 2024.


How to participate in artificial intelligence otherwise? Put simply, when it comes to technological developments, participation is either understood as public debates with non-expert voices to anticipate risks and potential harms, or as a way to better design technical systems by involving diverse stakeholders in the design process. We advocate for a third path that considers participation as crucial to problematise what is at stake and to get a grip on the situated developments of artificial intelligence technologies.
This study addresses how the production of accounts shape problems that arise with artificial intelligence technologies.
Taking France as a field of study, we first inspected how media narratives account for the entities and issues of artificial intelligence, as reported by the national press over the last decade. From this inspection, we identified four genres and described their performative effects. We then conducted a participatory inquiry with 25 French artificial intelligence practitioners’ to ground artificial intelligence in situated experiences and trajectories. These experiential accounts enabled a plural problematisation of artificial intelligence, playing with the geometries of artificial intelligence and its constituencies, while diversifying and thickening its problems.
To conclude, we discuss how participatory inquiries, through experiential and plural accounts offer a refreshing weaving of artificial intelligence problems into the fabric of its deployments. Our participatory approach seeks to re-politicise artificial intelligence from practitioners’ situated experiences, by making the ongoing relationships between past trajectories, current frictions and future developments tangible and contestable, opening avenues to contribute otherwise.

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