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

November 30, 2018 - 11:15am to 12:15pm
Brent Hecht
3-180 Keller Hall
David Du

ABSTRACT: From discussions in Congress to articles in Science, the issue known as “algorithmic bias” – intelligent technologies that reflect and reinforce societal biases – has become one of the most prominent issues in computer science. In this talk, I will first cover our research from late last decade that helped to establish the existence of algorithmic bias. Next, I will discuss more recent work that has examined algorithmic bias along an important but under-explored dimension: the urban-rural spectrum. Finally, I will highlight what I believe to be the single most important direction of future research in this space: mitigating bias in who benefits economically from intelligent technologies. In doing so, I will discuss our recent work developing technological means through which we can create a computing paradigm that more broadly distributes its winnings.

BIO: Dr. Brent Hecht is an assistant professor at Northwestern University. His research interests lie at the intersection of human–computer interaction, social computing, and spatial computing. At Northwestern, Dr. Hecht directs the People, Space, and Algorithms research group, whose mission is to “identify and address societal problems that are created or exacerbated by advances in computer science.” Dr. Hecht takes mixed-methods approaches, with an emphasis on large-scale quantitative analyses and system building.

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 is the recipient of a CAREER award from the U.S. National Science Foundation and has received awards for his research at top-tier publication venues in human-computer interaction, data science, and geography (e.g. ACM SIGCHI, ACM CSCW, ACM Mobile HCI, AAAI ICWSM, COSIT). Dr. Hecht has collaborated with Google Research, Xerox PARC, and Microsoft Research, and his work has been featured by The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, El País, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and various other TV, radio, and Internet outlets.