November 10 at 9:05am

Keynote: Data Feminism

Co-Sponsored by:
Institute for Research on Women and Gender
As data are increasingly mobilized in the service of governments and corporations, their unequal conditions of production, their asymmetrical methods of application, and their unequal effects on both individuals and groups have become increasingly difficult for data scientists–and others who rely on data in their work–to ignore. But it is precisely this power that makes it worth asking: “Data science by whom? Data science for whom? Data science with whose interests in mind? These are some of the questions that emerge from what we call data feminism, a way of thinking about data science and its communication that is informed by the past several decades of intersectional feminist activism and critical thought. Illustrating data feminism in action, this talk will show how challenges to the male/female binary can help to challenge other hierarchical (and empirically wrong) classification systems; it will explain how an understanding of emotion can expand our ideas about effective data visualization; how the concept of invisible labor can expose the significant human efforts required by our automated systems; and why the data never, ever “speak for themselves.” The goal of this talk, as with the project of data feminism, is to model how scholarship can be transformed into action: how feminist thinking can be operationalized in order to imagine more ethical and equitable data practices.

Catherine D’Ignazio

Assistant Professor, Urban Science & Planning
Director, Data + Feminism Lab
Department of Urban Studies & Planning, MIT

Catherine D’Ignazio is a scholar, artist/designer and hacker mama who focuses on feminist technology, data literacy and civic engagement. She has run reproductive justice hackathons, designed global news recommendation systems, created talking and tweeting water quality sculptures, and led walking data visualizations to envision the future of sea level rise. With Rahul Bhargava, she built the platform, a suite of tools and activities to introduce newcomers to data science. Her 2020 book from MIT Press, Data Feminism, co-authored with Lauren Klein, charts a course for more ethical and empowering data science practices. Her research at the intersection of technology, design & social justice has been published in the Journal of Peer Production, the Journal of Community Informatics, and the proceedings of Human Factors in Computing Systems (ACM SIGCHI). Her art and design projects have won awards from the Tanne Foundation, and the Knight Foundation and exhibited at the Venice Biennial and the ICA Boston. D’Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is also Director of the Data + Feminism Lab which uses data and computational methods to work towards gender and racial equity, particularly in relation to space and place.

Lauren Klein

Associate Professor, English, Quantitative Theory and Methods
Emory University

Lauren Klein is an associate professor in the departments of English and Quantitative Theory & Methods at Emory University, where she also directs the Digital Humanities Lab. Before moving to Emory, she taught in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech. Klein works at the intersection of digital humanities, data science, and early American literature, with a research focus on issues of gender and race. She has designed platforms for exploring the contents of historical newspapers  recreated forgotten visualization schemes with fabric and addressable LEDs  and, with her students, cooked meals from early American recipes and then visualized the results. In 2017, she was named one of the “rising stars in digital humanities” by Inside Higher Ed. She is the author of An Archive of Taste: Race and Eating in the Early United States (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and, with Catherine D’Ignazio, Data Feminism (MIT Press, 2020). With Matthew K. Gold, she edits Debates in the Digital Humanities, a hybrid print-digital publication stream that explores debates in the field as they emerge. Her current project, Data by Design: An Interactive History of Data Visualization, 1786-1900, was recently funded by an NEH-Mellon Fellowship for Digital Publication.

November 11 at 11:00am

Fireside Chat: Data Science as both a Science and a Force for Social Change

Eric Horvitz

Technical Fellow and Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Eric Horvitz

Technical Fellow and Chief Scientific Officer, Microsoft

Eric Horvitz is a technical fellow at Microsoft, where he serves as the company’s first Chief Scientific Officer. As chief scientist of the company, Dr. Horvitz provides leadership and perspectives on advances and trends on scientific matters, and on issues and opportunities rising at the intersection of technology, people, and society. He has pursued principles and applications of AI with contributions in machine learning, perception, natural language understanding, and decision making. His research centers on challenges with uses of AI amidst the complexities of the open world, including uses of probabilistic and decision-theoretic representations for reasoning and action, models of bounded rationality, and human-AI complementarity and coordination.

His efforts and collaborations have led to fielded systems in healthcare, transportation, ecommerce, operating systems, and aerospace. He received the Feigenbaum Prize and the Allen Newell Prize for contributions to AI. He received the CHI Academy honor for his work at the intersection of AI and human-computer interaction. He has been elected fellow of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), Association for the Advancement of AI (AAAI), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has served as president of the AAAI, and on advisory committees for the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, DARPA, and the Allen Institute for AI.

Beyond technical work, he has pursued efforts and studies on the influences of AI on people and society, including issues around ethics, law, and safety. He chairs Microsoft’s Aether committee on AI, effects, and ethics in engineering and research. He established the One Hundred Year Study on AI at Stanford University and co-founded the Partnership on AI. Dr. Horvitz currently serves as a commissioner for the National Security Commission on AI and chairs the line of effort on ethical and responsible AI.

Eric received PhD and MD degrees at Stanford University. Previously, he served as director of Microsoft Research Labs, including research centers in Redmond, Washington, Cambridge, Massachusetts, New York, New York, Montreal, Canada, Cambridge, UK, and Bangalore, India. He also ran the Microsoft Research Lab in Redmond, Washington. More information can be found on his home page. A list of publications can be found here.

H.V. “Jag” Jagadish


Eric Horvitz – Chief Scientific Officer, Microsoft
Moderator: H.V. “Jag” Jagadish –  Director, MIDAS

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