I’m Hairuo Guo, a senior in Course 6-3 (computer science) and Comparative Media Studies. My specific interests in these two fields were originally somewhat distinct – I’m involved in AI research for the former and have been focused on civic media/technology policy for the latter. What I find extremely exciting (and somewhat unsettling) is how rapidly those two areas are beginning to converge, forcing engineers and data scientists to confront problems ranging from those involving normative ethics (e.g., how should self-driving cars deal with the trolley problem?) to structural bias (e.g., with the spread of machine learning, how do we ensure that programs don’t learn to be prejudiced due to biased training data?). This semester I’ve been trying to become more involved with activist groups, something that a thoroughly enervating research project has prevented me from doing for the past couple years. I spend my spare time getting almost halfway through books, taking photographs, writing, having conversations with cats, and obsessing over my latest media artifact(s) of fascination (currently everything in the Buffyverse).
An example of youth activism that I find to be inspiring is the Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization driven by Harry Potter fans (many of whom are youth) that has tackled numerous issues ranging from mental health to LGBTQ+ rights to net neutrality. The effectiveness of HPA is amazing considering that it was founded on a fandom – I think that there are many lessons to be learned from how it has harnessed this (literal) collective interest and used it for civic engagement.