What artificial intelligence technologies have you interacted with today? Chances are, the list is long—and challenging to write. Journalist Karen Hao describes AI as part of the infrastructure of daily life, noting that “when something becomes infrastructure, it becomes invisible.”
Good journalism explains the systems that shape our lives, identifies the people and organizations in power, and exposes who is harmed and who benefits as a result. This is the work of the Pulitzer Center’s AI Accountability Initiative, which brings together a global network of journalists to learn about and report on diverse manifestations of AI, as well as to harness the power of machine learning for data journalism.
Engaging with news can help us understand AI and how it impacts us on personal, local, and global levels. Where does that knowledge lead us?
This spring, 83 young people around the world offered a response to this question through poetry. As part of the Pulitzer Center’s 2023 Fighting Words Poetry Contest, these students explored a story from our AI Accountability Initiative and used lines from that story to write an original poem. Their work reflects thoughtfully on the impact of AI and its intersections with issues such as worker safety, gender equity, racial justice, privacy, and misinformation.
These poems further the work of the journalism that inspired them by holding space for the nuances of AI’s power and potential, emphasizing the technology’s human impacts, and asking incisive questions about its role in our lives. We invite you to explore a selection of these young poets’ work below (click to enlarge):
from “Whispers of Colonial Algorithms” by David Irving Davenport (10th grade, Nansemond River High School, VA), with lines from "Artificial Intelligence Is Creating a New Colonial World Order" by Karen Hao
“You didn’t answer the door” by Bitan Chowdhury (12th grade, Oakton High School, VA), with lines from "Is the Next Misinformation Crisis Fear-Based and Local?" by Lam Thuy Vo
“Untitled” by Claire Simon (11th grade, Georgetown Day School, D.C.), with lines from "Tracked: How Colleges Use AI To Monitor Student Protests" by Arijit Douglas Sen and Derêka Bennett
“The Absence of a Solution” by Iyontha Williams (10th grade, Miami Lakes Educational Center, FL), with lines from "Gig Workers Are Being Stabbed, Beaten, and Abused in India" by Varsha Bansal
“Dr. Function (Prototype 1)” by Daniel Freeman (12th grade, Smithson Valley High School, TX), with lines from "Spain's AI Doctor" by Gabriel Geiger et al.