[Speaker] November 7th – Brent Hecht, Northwestern University

October 31, 2017

Time: Tuesday, November 7th, 2017, 11:00 am-12:00 pm

Location: 4405 Siebel Center

Title: The Origins, Present, and Future of Algorithmic Bias

Abstract: From Microsoft’s racist chatbot to articles in Science, the issue of bias in algorithms has leaped from a corner of the HCI literature to one of the most prominent issues in computing. In this talk, I will first cover the research we did late last decade that helped establish the existence of modern algorithmic bias. Next, I will discuss more recent work that has examined algorithmic bias along an important but under-covered dimension: the urban-rural spectrum. Finally, I will highlight what I believe to be the single most important direction of future work in this space: mitigating the bias in who benefits financially from algorithms. In doing so, I will discuss our recent research that outlined a technological means by which the public could force a more equitable distribution of the profits generated by algorithms.

Biography: Dr. Brent Hecht is an assistant professor at Northwestern University with appointments in Computer Science and the School of Communication. Dr. Hecht’s interests lie at the intersection of human-computer interaction, social computing, and spatial computing. Two active areas of research include (1) location-aware technologies and (2) better understanding and improving the relationships between algorithms and society. Dr. Hecht takes mixed methods approaches, with an emphasis on “big data” projects.

Dr. Hecht received a Ph.D. in computer science from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree in geography from UC Santa Barbara, and dual Bachelor’s degrees in computer science and geography from Macalester College. He has been a keynote speaker at venues such as WikiSym and ER&L, and has received awards for his research at top-tier publication venues in human-computer interaction, data science, and geography (e.g. ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, ACM Mobile HCI, AAAI ICWSM, COSIT). Dr. Hecht has collaborated with Google Research, Xerox PARC, and Microsoft Research, and his work been featured by NPR, the Washington Post, CNN, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and various international TV, radio, and Internet outlets.

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