Rewriting Conventional Societal Narratives
with Data and AI

MIDAS, Digital Studies, Institute for Research on Women & Gender,
and Women of Color Code mini-symposium

December 6–7, 2023
8:30 am–5:00 pm

Weiser Hall, 10th floor
500 Church Street,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


The ubiquity of data and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are rapidly reshaping every aspect of human society. However, as with any emerging technology, data and AI are deeply entwined with our social matrix. Many scholars have been directing our attention to how data and AI can amplify the existing structural and cultural injustice. At the U-M Data Science and AI Summit 2020, Catherine D’ignazio and Lauren Klein, authors of the now classic “Data Feminism”, advocated for data scientists to adopt principles of feminism to challenge authority and convention, which sparked enthusiastic calls for actions on campus. In this mini-symposium, we will hear presentations from leading researchers who have done just that: using data and AI to challenge and rewrite the conventional narrative about a variety of social issues. We will also organize faculty research roundtable discussions to stimulate new research ideas under the same theme.

All are welcome to attend the featured speaker presentations. Faculty members who are interested in developing new research ideas or collaboration are strongly encouraged to also attend the research roundtable. Sign-up is strongly encouraged for both activities.

*Please note that photography will be in use during this event. If you do not wish to have your photo published, please pick up a red lanyard during check-in.


Kanta Dihal, Lecturer in Science Communication, Imperial College London

Research Overview

Dr. Kanta Dihal is Lecturer in Science Communication at Imperial College London and Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge. In her research, she focuses on the stories we tell about science and technology across cultures, and how they help us think about ethics and bias in new technologies.

Kanta was Principal Investigator on the project Global AI Narratives from 2018-2022, in which she explored intercultural public understanding of artificial intelligence as constructed by fictional and nonfictional narratives. Kanta’s work intersects the fields of science communication, literature and science, and science fiction. She has a PhD in science communication from the University of Oxford: in her thesis, ‘The Stories of Quantum Physics,’ she investigated the communication of conflicting interpretations of quantum physics to adults and children.

She is co-editor of the books AI Narratives: A History of Imaginative Thinking About Intelligent Machines (Oxford University Press, 2020) and Imagining AI: How the World Sees Intelligent Machines (Oxford University Press, 2023) and has co-authored a series of papers on AI narratives with Dr Stephen Cave, including ‘The Whiteness of AI’ (Philosophy and Technology, 2020). She is currently writing the book Stories in Superposition. For more of her publications, see the Publications page.

Kanta has advised organizations including the World Economic Forum, the UK House of Lords, the G20, and the United Nations on portrayals and perceptions of AI. She has been an invited speaker for national and international events, radio, and TV: for more information, see the Media & Press page.

Amba Kak, Executive Director, AI Now Institute

Research Overview

In step with a fast evolving field, her transnational expertise spans a range of issues including AI regulation, data privacy, competition, network neutrality and digital copyright.

Amba previously held the role of Director of Global Policy & Programs at AI Now, where she designed and implemented a pioneering policy research agenda, including the first global compendium on Regulating Biometrics and an international, multi-organization project on Algorithmic Accountability, among many others. Prior to AI Now, Amba was Global Policy Adviser at Mozilla, where she helped develop Mozilla’s policy positions, and supported a multi-pronged campaign for data protection laws in India and Kenya. As a legal consultant at the National Institute of Public Finance & Policy, she has also advised India’s telecommunications regulator (TRAI) on net-neutrality rules.

Amba Kak has served as Senior Advisor on AI at the Federal Trade Commission and is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at Northeastern University. She also serves on the Program & Strategy Committee for the Mozilla Foundation, where she advises the non-profit on its philanthropic and advocacy work.

Amba has been the recipient of the Google Policy Fellowship and the Mozilla Tech Policy Fellowship. Her work is published widely across academic journals and popular outlets, and has been featured in Nature, MIT Tech Review, Politico, among many others. Trained as a lawyer, Amba received her BA LLB (Hons) from the National University of Juridical Sciences in India. She has a Masters in Law (BCL) and an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet at the University of Oxford, which she attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

J. Nathan Matias, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Cornell University

Research Overview

Nathan is an Assistant Professor in the Cornell University Department of Communication, where he leads CAT Lab. He works with social media companies, news organizations, and online communities to test ideas for a flourishing internet and evaluate the social impact of online platforms. 

Nathan developed CAT Lab as part of his PhD at the MIT Media Lab and MIT Center for Civic Media. Nathan, who is Guatemalan-American, has a background in tech startups and nonprofits. His research regularly appears in the news, and his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, PBS, the Guardian, and many others.

Image credit: Allison Usavage/Cornell CALS.


Jing Liu

Jing Liu, Executive Director, Michigan Institute for Data Science


Questions? Message the MIDAS team: