IRL: Online Life is Real Life

Mozilla’s multi-award winning podcast is back! In Season 7, Bridget Todd meets tech builders who put people over profit in artificial intelligence.


Season 7

4: Lend Me Your Voice

Big tech’s power over language, means power over people. Bridget Todd talks to language community leaders paving the way for voice AI in their own languages and dialects. Show Notes

Published: November 21, 2023

Big tech’s power over language, means power over people. Bridget Todd talks to AI community leaders paving the way for open voice tech in their own languages and dialects.

In this episode: AI builders and researchers in the US, Kenya and New Zealand who say the languages computers learn to recognize today will be the ones that survive tomorrow — as long as communities and local startups can defend their data rights from big AI companies..

Halcyon Lawrence was a researcher of information design at Towson University in Maryland (via Trinidad and Tobago) who did everything Alexa told her to for a year.*

Keoni Mahelona is a leader of Indigenous data rights and chief technology officer of Te Hiku Media, a Māori community media network with 21 local radio stations in New Zealand.

Kathleen Siminyu is an AI grassroots community leader in Kenya and a machine learning fellow with Mozilla’s Common Voice working on Kiswahili voice projects.

IRL: Online Life is Real Life is an original podcast from Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox. In Season 7, host Bridget Todd talks to AI builders that put people ahead of profit.

*Sadly, following the recording of this episode, Dr. Halcyon Lawrence passed away. We are glad to have met her and pay tribute to her legacy as a researcher and educator. Thank you, Halcyon.

Episode transcript
  • Why does it so often feel like we’re part of a mass AI experiment? What is the responsible way to test new technologies? Bridget Todd explores what it means to live with unproven AI systems that impact millions of people as they roll out across public life.

  • They’re the essential workers of AI — yet mostly invisible and exploited. Does it have to be this way? Bridget Todd talks to data workers and entrepreneurs calling for change.

  • Are today’s large language models too hot to handle? Bridget Todd digs into the risks and rewards of opening up the tech that makes ChatGPT talk.

  • This season, Bridget Todd meets people who are balancing the upsides of AI with the downsides coming into view worldwide. The first of five biweekly episodes launches on October 10!

Season 6

  • Life, death and data. AI’s capacity to support research on human health is well documented. But so are the harms of biased datasets and misdiagnoses. How can AI developers build healthier systems? We take a look at a new dataset for Black skin health, a Covid chatbot in Rwanda, AI diagnostics in rural India, and elusive privacy in mental health apps.

  • How can platforms stop disinformation that spreads like wildfire during elections? A record number of elections are taking place around the world in 2022. Voters’ social media feeds will be flooded with political, AI driven disinformation campaigns. Grassroots organizations are tackling the problem head on, aggressively tracking disinformation and hate speech and fighting AI with AI.

  • 3: AI from Above Listen now. August 15, 2022

    From above the clouds, our world is surveilled and datafied. Power over that data means power over what stories get told about people and places: whose needs are counted, whose needs are erased. How can people reclaim power over their own maps and stories using AI?

  • Gig workers around the world report directly to algorithms in precarious jobs created by secretive corporations. We take you to the streets of Quito, Ecuador where delivery workers are protesting against artificial intelligence, and we hear solutions from people in several countries on how to audit the algorithms and reclaim rights.

  • Where should tech builders draw the line on AI for military or surveillance? Just because it can be built, doesn't mean it should be. At what point do we blow the whistle, call out the boss, and tell the world? Find out what it's like to sound the alarm from inside a big tech company.

  • Meet IRL's new host, Bridget Todd, who is on a journey to meet people around the world who are making AI more trustworthy, in real life.

Season 5

Season 4

Season 3

Season 2

Season 1