AI Auditing

AI Auditing Produced with University of Michigan, May 27-31, 2024

Last May 27-31, 2024, Book Sprints had the privilege of joining some brilliant minds to write a book on artificial intelligence (AI) auditing. Through the initiative of the University of Michigan, a team of 11 scholars, journalists, and legal experts convened together to write a guide on AI auditing. An extremely timely piece of work, this guide is focused on giving practical real-world examples so readers have a clear grasp of how to navigate AI systems and their auditing processes. With majority working onsite and some working remotely, the participants collaborated through the guidance of our facilitators Alysa Khouri and Faith Bosworth. 

The Book Sprint took place in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Our authors and facilitators drew inspiration from the fact that this was the same location where Einstein and Oppenheimer produced a large body of their work together. 

Authors and facilitator pose with a bust of Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Studies.

Answering Important Questions

The book gives readers of varied backgrounds insight on how to use and read AI audits. As the authors put it in the introduction: 

“AI systems are now powering every area of human life, from the algorithms that direct life-saving treatment to the software that filters our emails for spam. Wherever AI systems are being used, people ask the same questions that Stock did in 2009: Does it work? Is it fair? How will it affect my safety, my livelihood, and my community?

The goal is for the book to be able to enhance the public knowledge of AI so society can have “informed debates over AI.” By giving real-world examples of how AI audits have been done and used in the past, the authors hope that readers can begin to understand how to “know when to use (or not use) AI, improve public trust in AI, and guide improvements over time.” 

The lovely venue had options for work both inside and outside, giving our authors freedom to work where they feel best.

Perhaps most importantly, the book was written for almost anyone encountering AI to be able to read and understand. As the Introduction says, 

“For most people, AI audits are new territory. Maybe an AI company has approached you with a system they are selling, or someone has complained about a product your own company has deployed. You could work at a nonprofit, be a journalist, or be a concerned citizen who has heard about a proposed AI system and wants to help the public understand and assess it. You may be an expert in your field, but AI may be new to you; you may never have commissioned or had to interpret an AI audit. This book is for you.” 

Helping Hands, Helping Paws

Our facilitator Alysa gave us a peek behind the curtain when she talked about some of the challenges the authors faced during this Sprint. She shared that there was a slight delay in the writing segment of the Sprint, leading to authors having to write on a day when they were supposed to be editing. They pulled through by churning out about 10,000 words in 5 hours, which is quite a feat — the kind the Sprint format is designed to help you pull if need be. The book eventually reached its target word count and then some! 

Alysa also told us about how they had a wonderful little visitor almost each day of the Sprint! Courtesy of one of the authors living in the area, this therapy dog brought joy and relaxation to the authors as they crunched out this book in five days. 

This is Blake Lively, a standard poodle therapy dog who visited our authors almost every day!

The authors are eyeing to submit this to publishers for release soon, and we’re excited to see where this book goes next. Stay tuned! 


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