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Accepted Paper:

Burlesque crossroad visions: imagining global health data  
Leah Junck (University of Cape Town)

Paper short abstract:

Conceptualisations of AI-driven healthcare ‘solutions’ in former colonial contexts are tied up with burlesque visions of a historical crossroads. These caricatured visions of development stand in sharp contrast to the nuanced ways in which data and coded technologies may be understood and embodied.

Paper long abstract:

This paper walks the reader through my thinking as I started engaging with the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare in Mozambique. It illustrates that the public discourse on AI is distracting in that it tends to neglect epistemological questions of how AI is understood, how understandings frame immediate as well as more large-scaled interactions, and how these interactions reproduce power relations and structural violence. Setting out to research ‘AI in health’ had me reconnecting with my research on the Tinder dating app, and to the central question of how relational practices may form against the backdrop of hegemonic discourses, and imaginations of development, digitalisation and computation. Insights already gleaned from studying how coded dating technologies like Tinder are used to produce intimacy helped me contemplate how to think and speak about AI in a way that reveals more than it conceals. I argue that prominent ways of conceptualising data, digitisation processes and ‘AI solutions’ in healthcare and ‘postcolonial’ countries like Mozambique are also tied up with what I refer to as burlesque visions of a historical crossroads. These caricatured visions of development, reminiscent of colonial pasts, stand in sharp contrast to the nuanced ways in which data and coded technologies may be understood and embodied. AI in caregiving challenges how we think of core human values, like privacy, compassion, trust, and the very idea of care itself. It solicits substantial queries into what conceptions of care and well- being should and should not be encoded within these technologies.

Panel P21a
AI in healthcare : the politics and ethics of data mining in the Global South
  Session 1 Monday 6 June, 2022, -