Artificial Intelligence (AI) advancements have begun to transform social interaction and business operations. Such rapid transformations beg the question: How do these innovations affect the existing digital inequities that separate those with access to the technology from those without? How do we bridge that divide?
The digital divide has traditionally focused on human access, skills, and capacity; however, AI complicates the interaction between humans and AI-enabled systems. As we stand at the precipice of an AI revolution, it’s critical that policymakers, technology companies, and equity advocates work collectively to steer these transformative technologies towards empowering people in need, rather than further isolating them.
Join us on October 24th to explore the impact of AI during the latest installment of our ongoing learning series, Connecting California: Solving the Digital Divide. Featuring experts in AI social work research, workforce development, and digital equity community advocacy, the panel will shed light on the role of AI and its implications on the digital divide in California and beyond.
Deputy Director, Digital Equity Initiative at California Community Foundation
Natalie Gonzalez is the Deputy Director of the Digital Equity Initiative at the California Community Foundation (CCF). The Digital Equity Initiative is a multi-year project that will seed a digital equity movement in Los Angeles County with the power and capacity to successfully advocate for fast, reliable, and affordable broadband for all Angelenos.
Prior to working in the digital equity space, Gonzalez worked within the Public Policy and Civic Engagement department at CCF, supporting strategic partnerships, advocacy, local, and state initiatives, specifically the COVID-19 Community Health Project. With over eight years in the nonprofit sector, Gonzalez has served as Director of Engagement at Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley (BGCGCV), providing support to youth development programs and services throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties. She has helped establish nationally recognized programs that promote youth empowerment, civic engagement, and leadership among under-resourced communities. Recently, Gonzalez supported a county-wide initiative to mobilize young voters and increase voter turnout through grassroots organizing and social media activations. Gonzalez received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Merced.
Professor and Co-Director, University of Southern California (USC) Center for AI in Society
Eric Rice is a professor and the founding co-director of the University of Southern California (USC) Center for AI in Society, a joint venture of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Rice received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago, as well as a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from Stanford University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Having served as a USC faculty member since 2009, Rice specializes in social network science and theory, in addition to community-based research. His primary focus is on youth experiencing homelessness and how issues of social network influence may affect risk-taking behaviors and resilience. For several years, Rice has worked with colleague Milind Tambe to merge social work science and AI, seeking novel solutions to major social problems, such as homelessness and HIV.
Managing Director, Jobs for the Future (JFF)
Alex Swartsel is managing director of Jobs for the Future (JFF) Labs’s new Insights practice, a growing team that helps decision-makers across the education-to-career landscape understand and prepare for the emerging trends, technologies, and innovations shaping the future of work and learning. JFF Labs’s rapid insights process and a transformative trends research agenda focuses on core areas impacting the future of work and learning—one that includes climate resilience, lifelong learning, the metaverse, AI, aerospace, robotics, and other fields that emerge as the market evolves. Swartsel is also leading the launch of JFF’s new Center for Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work.
Before joining JFFLabs, Swartsel served as chief of development, finance, and external affairs for Teach for America’s Washington, DC, region. As a senior advisor to United States Senator Elizabeth Warren, Swartsel co-designed global strategic planning at the Motion Picture Association and built and led the communications team for then-first-term United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
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