LiA Week 2: Exploring Amsterdam's Civil Society Space

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In my second post, I want to highlight an instance of community engagement during my work with the AI, Media, and Democracy Lab (AIMD Lab) in Amsterdam. The Lab is an "Ethical, Legal, and Societal Laboratory" that produces public-facing research on important policy issues and hosts events that inform the public (and in particular, the EU media ecosystem) on the political and social consequences of new AI technologies. Part of the lab's public-facing outreach includes collaborations with civil society groups located in and around Amsterdam (there are a LOT here in the Netherlands) to run talks and conferences about the impact of AI regulations on local media organizations, and how those organizations can use AI safely and responsibly.

I spent two days at one of these conferences last week (the Public Spaces Conference), supporting the work of the AIMD Lab's members and writing summaries of the different talks they facilitated. I also had the opportunity to engage with a number of local media stakeholders, who I spoke to about their role in the rapidly evolving news landscape and their struggle to adapt to new AI technologies. I've been to a few of these conferences so far: they unite media groups, civil society organizations, and academic leaders in order to facilitate dialogue, unite different streams of advocacy, and develop concrete policy proposals. One of the talks that I helped with, run by the AIMD Lab in collaboration with Open Futures--a civil society group that advocates for inclusive digital public spaces--was particularly interesting to me. It touched on how small-scale public AI developers in the EU (who are attempting to create free, transparent models that more accurately reflect the language and cultures of their home countries) are attempting to co-create a public data "commons" in order to make publicly-available data more equitable and to reduce their dependence on large tech companies.

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