Critical AI is a new phrase circulating among academics around the world face as they face the challenges of cutting-edge, generative artificial intelligence technology.
It will even be the name of a new interdisciplinary journal, as the rise of AI has far-reaching implications that will go way beyond the classroom and the campus. The Critical AI publication is based at Rutgers University’s Center for Cultural Analysis, affiliated with the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, and published with Duke University Press.
The reach of AI is broad, moving significantly beyond its origins in computer science. It was a professor of English at Kansas University who recently summed up the importance of the technology in direct and simple terms. Kathryn Conrad said: “A robust critical AI literacy is essential for everyone—with emphasis on 'critical’.”
She added: “These generative technologies are having an impact on the world, and the ethical challenges they entail—such as the exploitation of labour from the global south and the potential reinforcing of a western/global north perspective on the world, due to the kinds of data that have been scraped to train the models—will also have an impact on the world.”
Conrad credits the “Critical AI” phrase to Dr. Maha Bali of the American University in Cairo, who coined it. Bali is a leader in the study of ed-tech and has been making keynote speeches on open education, digital pedagogy, and social justice since 2017.
One of the most prominent commentators from the Arab world on AI, she has referred to the technology as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, not least due to the way in which one of the most famous pioneering technology platforms in the field was put together.