AI’s Regimes of Representation: A Community-centered Study of Text-to-Image Models in South Asia

Rida Qadri
Proceedings of the 2023 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, Association for Computing Machinery, 506–517


This paper presents a community-centered study of cultural limitations of text-to-image (T2I) models in the South Asian context. We theorize these failures using scholarship on dominant media regimes of representations and locate them within participants’ reporting of their existing social marginalizations. We thus show how generative AI can reproduce an outsiders gaze for viewing South Asian cultures, shaped by global and regional power inequities. By centering communities as experts and soliciting their perspectives on T2I limitations, our study adds rich nuance into existing evaluative frameworks and deepens our understanding of the culturally-specific ways AI technologies can fail in non-Western and Global South settings. We distill lessons for responsible development of T2I models, recommending concrete pathways forward that can allow for recognition of structural inequalities.

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