The Electronic Frontier Alliance is proud to have such a diverse membership, and is especially proud to ally with Encode Justice chapters. Encode Justice is a community that includes over 1,000 high school and college students across over 40 U.S. states and 30 countries. Organized into chapters, these young people constitute a global youth movement for safe, equitable AI. Their mission is mobilizing communities for AI aligned with human values.

At its core, Encode Justice is more than just a name. It’s a guiding philosophy: they believe we must encode justice and safety into the technologies we build. Young people are critical stakeholders in conversations about AI, and presently, as we find ourselves face-to-face with challenges like algorithmic bias, misinformation, democratic erosion, and labor displacement; we simultaneously stand on the brink of even larger-scale risks that could result from the loss of human control over increasingly powerful systems. Encode Justice believes human-centered AI must be built, designed, and governed by and for diverse stakeholders, and that AI should help guide us towards our aspirational future, not simply reflect the data of our past and present.

Currently three local chapters of Encode Justice have joined the EFA: Encode Justice North Carolina, Oregon, and Georgia. Recently I caught up with the leader of Encode Justice NC, Siri, about her chapter, their work, and how other people (including youth) can plug in and join the movement for safe, equitable AI:

Can you tell us a little about your chapter, its composition, and its projects?

Encode Justice North Carolina is an Encode Justice chapter led by Siri M while including other high schoolers and college students in NC. Most of us are in the Research Triangle Park area, but we’d also welcome any NC based student that is interested in our work! In the past, we have done projects including educational workshops, policy memos, and legislative campaigns (on the state & city council level) while lobbying officials and building coalitions with other state and local organizations.

Diving more into the work of your chapter, can you elaborate? And are there any local partnerships you’ve made with regard to your legislative advocacy efforts?

We’ve specifically done a lot of work around surveillance, with ‘AI in Policing & Surveillance' being the subject of our educational workshop with the national organization “Paving Tomorrow.” We’ve also lobbied the city council of Cary, NC to pass an ACLU model bill on police surveillance, after gaining support in the campaign from Emancipate NC, the EFA, and BSides RDU. Notably, we have lobbied our state legislature to pass a bill regarding social media addiction and data privacy for youth. Additionally, a policy memo from our chapter was written and published as a part of the Encode Justice State AI legislative project to spread information and analysis on the local legislative landscape, stakeholders, and solutions regarding tech policy related issues in our state. The memo was for legislators, organizations, and press to use.

We’ve also conducted a project to gather student testimonials on AI/school-based surveillance. In the near future, we are looking forward to working on bigger campaigns, including a national legislative facial recognition campaign, and a local campaign on the impacts of surveillance on immigrant communities. We are also more generally looking forward to expanding our reach while gaining new members in more regions of NC, and potentially leading more campaigns and projects while increasing their scope and widening our range of topics. 

How can other youth plug-in to support and join the movement?

Anyone, including non-students, can follow us on Instagram at @encodejusticenc. If you are interested in becoming an Encode Justice North Carolina member, you could please fill out the form to do so! Lastly, if you are a student that would like to support us in a smaller way, you can fill out the student testimonies survey here.

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