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Public Voices Fellowship Supports Baobao Zhang’s AI Research

October 11, 2023

The Maxwell School faculty member will use the fellowship to engage the public on perceptions and governance of artificial intelligence.

Baobao Zhang

Baobao Zhang

Baobao Zhang, assistant professor of political science, has received the 2023-24 Public Voices Fellowship on Technology in the Public Interest to explore attitudes and policy related to artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Zhang is one of 20 fellows chosen for the one-year program that supports women and underrepresented thought leaders in producing public writing, conducting live experiments and networking with scholars, experts and journalists. Zhang plans to use the fellowship to publish op-eds and engage in public communication about the uses and risks of artificial intelligence. She will hold an eight-day, virtual public assembly in October with 40 randomly selected participants that explores public perceptions of AI across applications in public administration, health, online search and face recognition. The workshop is based on her research that public knowledge about AI affects whether citizens, consumers and stakeholders can make informed decisions about policy, accountability or potential benefits or harms.

The 2023-24 Public Voices Fellowship on Technology in the Public Interest is supported by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in partnership with the OpEd Project. The fellowship program is partnered with 35 universities and foundations, including the Ford Foundation and Yale, Stanford and Princeton universities. The program is designed to support underrepresented scholars who advance public conversations on gender, racial, health, climate and media justice issues.

Zhang’s October workshop is supported by a previous two-year, $200,000 grant she received as one of 15 AI2050 Early Career fellows. Those fellowships were funded by the philanthropic organization Schmidt Futures. For the workshop, she will partner with the Center for New Democratic Processes, a nonpartisan nonprofit that will hold eight workshop sessions that analyze public engagement with AI governance and applications.

Zhang is a senior research associate in the Autonomous Systems Policy Institute and the Campbell Public Affairs Institute. Her broader work focuses on public and elite opinion of AI, policy and ethics of AI technology, and how the American welfare state can adapt to increasing automation.

By Michael Kelly

Published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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