UofM's Hooks Institute Releases Policy Papers on the Impact of AI on Marginalized Communities

Author and Editor to Appear on New Memphis’s Podcast on July 25 

July 19, 2023 — The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis released its 2023 Policy Papers, an insightful collection that delves into the profound current and future effects of AI and automation on vulnerable communities. Under the title "The Promise and Peril: Unpacking the Impact of AI and Automation on Marginalized Communities," these papers offer invaluable insights for policymakers, researchers and industry leaders. 

Policy Paper author Meka Egwuekwe and editor Daphene McFerren will present portions of the Policy Papers on the New Memphis Podcast. The podcast will broadcast on WYXR (91.7 FM) on July 25 at 9 a.m. and will be available from streaming afterward. 

The Policy Paper Articles extensively examine three key issues: 

  • "Regulating Facial Recognition Technology to Reduce Bias," by Khortlan Becton, JD, MTS, highlights the urgent need to regulate AI to eradicate existing and potential policies and practices that disproportionately discriminate against African Americans and minorities. Becton proposes the creation of a new federal agency to oversee and regulate AI implementation to ensure fairness and equity. 
  • "Automation and Artificial Intelligence in the Field of Social Work: Understanding Technology in Practice," by Susan Elswick, EdD, LCSW, explores the potential of AI and automation in providing social work counseling to those in need. The paper emphasizes the importance of access and technological literacy for clients and argues for formal training for social workers to effectively leverage AI and automation to benefit their clients. 
  • "The Impact of Automation on Our Workforce," by Meka Egwuekwe, MS, examines AI and automation through the lens of a practitioner teaching computer coding and advocates for reskilling and upskilling the workforce, increased support for startups and small businesses and the implementation of universal basic income as a resource to aid those displaced by AI and automation. 

The editors of the papers are McFerren (Executive Director, Hooks Institute), Daniel Kiel (FedEx Professor of Law, Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law) and Elena Delavega (Professor, School of Social Work, University of Memphis). 

The Hooks Institute Policy Papers are now available online on the Hooks Institute website

Daphene McFerren, Hooks Institute executive director and editor of the Policy Papers, expressed her enthusiasm for the release of the 2023 edition  

“These papers represent a significant contribution to our understanding of the impact, pitfalls and potentials of AI and automation for every American,” McFerren said. “We hope policymakers, industry leaders and citizens will utilize the insights and recommendations presented here to foster a more equitable and inclusive future." 

About the Hooks Institute Policy Papers 

The Hooks Institute Policy Papers are an annual publication addressing pressing civil rights, social justice and equity issues. Authored by esteemed scholars and practitioners, these papers offer valuable recommendations for addressing challenges and promoting positive societal change. The Hooks Institute Policy Papers serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, civic and business leaders and all individuals dedicated to advancing social change and equality. 

About the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change 

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.