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This poem was written by Anne L. Washington as part of our ODI Writers' Fund for Black History Month 2020

About Anne

Anne L. Washington teaches data ethics at New York University as an assistant professor of data policy. The National Science Foundation has funded her research multiple times including a prestigious 5-year NSF CAREER grant on open government data. Her current work investigated COVID19 classifications in open data. This piece was given several times at open-mic events in New York City because art reaches minds sometimes faster than academic papers. 

i am A.I. and Thou

iCan make algorithms nervous

iCan forget about that year, that place, those people, that food.

iCan remember that year, that place, those people, that food.

iCan say that I am not a trucker but that trip changed my life.

iCan set my own trends.

iCan tell the algorithm that she borrowed my machine

iCan tell the search engine that it was just a school project

iCan tell the thermostat that it was a freak blizzard

iCan tell the gas company that my mother-in-law was visiting for only a few days and she likes it really warm.

iCan conspire with outliers and

iCan throw off averages.

iCan find my data doubles

iCan find my data double concocting false numbers on forms

iCan find my data double lurking in hospital halls and muttering probabilities

iCan stop my data from whispering about me to strangers

iCan control data gossip

iCan choose whether country means my permanent address, my current location, my billing address, my nationality, or my place of birth.

iCan, no that's not my correct address

iCan be seen without cameras

iCan be heard without microphones

iCan choose two cultures not one parent

iCan see my reflection in the category

iCan find my community in the choices

iCan choose something other than other

iCan be who I wanted to be

iCan be who I want to be

iCan be different from what I did last year

iCan notify you when you are wrong

iCan track your intentions while you trace my behavior

iCan see who you compare me to

iCan choose who you compare me to

iAm Thou, not you.

iAm the mean of me

iAm not divided by the total sum of others

iAm better than the base rate

iAm my own intelligence

Our other Black History Month winners