Karine Gentelet Awarded the Abeona-ENS-OBVIA Research Chair on AI and Social Justice

Posted on Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Centre for Law, Technology and Society is delighted to announce that CLTS Associate member Dr. Karine Gentelet has been awarded the Research Chair on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Social Justice by Fondation Abeona, École normale supérieure (ENS) and OBVIA. 


Created through a partnership between Fondation Abeona, the  École normale supérieure (ENS) and the Observatoire international sur les impacts sociétaux de l’IA et du numérique (OBVIA) at the Université Laval, the chair invites a guest professor for a year to conduct research in AI and social justice and interact with researchers from Paris and Quebec ecosystems in the AI, Humanities and Social sciences and Health fields and organize seminars and public events. Each year, the partnership invites an expert to conduct advanced research on AI and its sociological, ethical and scientific impacts. Named as Chairholder for the 2020-2021 academic year, Dr. Karine Gentelet will be succeeding Professor Kate Crawford of NYU’s AI Now Institute on this research chair.

Dr. Karine Gentelet is an Associate Professor of Sociology within the Department of Social Sciences at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. Her research interests and publications focus on recognition of human rights of Indigenous Peoples, uses of digital technology and artificial intelligence for social justice, ethics of research in an indigenous context and the social responsibility of researchers.


As Chairholder, Dr. Gentelet will pursue a research program titled “Social Justice and Artificial Intelligence: Citizen Governance to Reverse Invisibility in Algorithms and Mitigate Discriminatory Uses.” Indeed, inequitable power relations are the product of the imposition of dominant hegemonic structures or historical processes of colonization. Little research focuses on the uses, strategies and solutions advanced by groups, communities and individuals affected by digital technologies. However, these users have needs or concerns regarding the uses and deployment of AI technologies that are most likely very different from state institutions and private actors.

Their participation in governance has become essential from a democratic perspective. Their participation is also fundamental to limit and control the biases and discriminations related to AI technologies from their design to their use. However, and very often, the standpoint of these analyses focuses on the effects (negative or positive), but rarely on the modalities of their participation or their inclusion in the modes of data governance, technologies and their uses. Nonetheless, they all express the need, even the urgency, to be not only consulted, but included in the modes of governance since they are, in essence, the first to be affected by these technologies developed and implemented without their expertise and their experiential knowledge. The current challenges are therefore to implement adequate processes of citizen data governance, algorithms and regulation modes of their uses. In a world which increasingly relies on AI and digital technologies, this citizen governance is a major social justice issue.

The research will take place in a context of a pandemic which cannot be ignored given the impact on the dynamics of social interactions, democratic life, fundamental rights, and obviously the omnipresence of AI technologies to support decision making. In addition, the post-COVID-19 global social, health and economic crisis looming in the coming years will mean the use of technologies is likely to increase, either to facilitate democratic interactions or to achieve monetary savings. In this sense, we should expect an acceleration of the dematerialization of social and political interactions and the datafication of society. It thus appears even more important to have a reflection on the modalities for a citizen participation in data governance, artificial intelligence systems and the use of these technologies at local and global levels.


Congratulations to Dr. Gentelet on her accomplishments!

Back to top