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I'm Shaomei. I study and build technologies with marginalized communities to dismantle barriers and seek social justice. My current work takes place at the intersetion of AI, HCI, Accessibility, and Social Computing, and centers around the lived experiences of communities that have been structurally marginalized and impacted by technologies. In particular, I explore the following two connected domains:

  1. Understand marginalized communities and their experiences online and offline.

    Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methodology, I study the challenges and capacities of marginalized communities, and identify opportunities for technology to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

    • Challenges - Where are the gaps in technological experiences for marginalized users and how are these gaps linked to offline experiences and outcomes?

    • Capacities - How do marginalized and underserved users leverage and reappropriate mainstream technology to build communities, foster collective consciousness, and coordinate resistance to existing power structures?

    • Opportunities - What are the opportunities for current and future technology to close the equity gaps online and offline?

  2. Design community-centric technology to deliver tangible benefits and level the playing field.

    Informed by the knowledge from the previous domain, I also do lots of hand-on design & development work in building innovative technologies that empower people to overcome barriers and pursue their goals. My tech work falls into the following two areas:

    • Make existing technologies inclusive for all, pushing the envelope of accessibility beyond checklists and government requirements.

    • Envision and invent new technologies centered on the empowerments of marginalized populations, leveling the playing field and lifting up those who were historically left behind.

Bio:

Shaomei Wu is the founder and CEO of AImpower.org, a tech non-profit that researches and co-creates technologies for and with marginalized communities to dismantle barriers and deliver tangible benefits. Previously, Shaomei was a staff research scientist at Facebook and Instagram, leading and driving various "tech for good" initiatives from Accessibility, AI for Inclusion, to Equity. Throughout her career, Shaomei worked closely with users from marginalized and/or low-resource communities - such as people with disabilities, people with limited literacy skills, and racial minorities in the US - to understand their technology experiences and build AI-powered products to meet their needs. One of such products is automatic alt-text, a computer-vision powered service that describes images on Facebook and Instagram to screen readers in real time. Prior to Facebook, Shaomei received her Ph.D in Information Science from Cornell University, studying the spread of information and behaviors in large social networks. Shaomei publishes her work in HCI, accessibility, and Computational Social Sciences venues such as CHI, CSCW, theWebConf, and ICWSM.

Shaomei is a person who stutters and is still exploring this part of her identity. She frequently volunteers her time mentoring students and junior researchers from underrepresented groups, organizing academic conferences, and sharing her technical expertise with other nonprofit organizations.

To learn more about Shaomei's research & work, please check out her CV, her list of selected publications, and her Google Scholar Page