Algolinguicism: Translating Language Justice to Digital Platforms
A New AI Lexicon
AI Now Institute
October 2021

A contribution to “A New AI Lexicon,” edited by Noopur Raval and Amba Kak at AI Now Institute, a call for contributions to generate alternate narratives, positionalities, and understandings to the better known and widely circulated ways of talking about AI.

This essay addresses digital platforms as sites of algolinguicism: a matrix of automated processes that minoritize language-users outside the Global North and obstruct their access to political participation. It asks: Which languages are accorded weight in the development of a platform’s algorithms? Which speakers are afforded the right to participate on a given platform, and how do linguistic hierarchies materially impact their lived experience? Whose languages are digital platforms taught to speak? Examining the case study of Azerbaijan’s recent state-sponsored campaign of digital repression and disinformation, I attend to a collective digital performance by Armenian diasporan artists in the She Loves Collective that converts platforms into provisional spaces of transnational feminist solidarity and imagines spaces beyond algolinguicism.

Illustration: Somnath Bhatt