Roles for Computing in Social Justice
Tuesday, August 4 from 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. EST.
About this Session:
A recent normative turn in computer science has brought concerns about fairness, bias, and accountability to the core of the field. Yet recent scholarship has warned that much of this technical work treats problematic features of the status quo as fixed, and fails to address deeper patterns of injustice and inequality. While acknowledging these critiques, we posit that computational research has valuable roles to play in addressing social problems -- roles whose value can be recognized even from a perspective that aspires toward fundamental social change. In this talk, we articulate four such roles -- computing as a diagnostic, formalizer, rebuttal, and synecdoche -- through an analysis that considers the opportunities as well as the significant risks inherent in such work.
Rediet Abebe is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and an incoming Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Abebe holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University as well as graduate degrees from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge. Her research is in the fields of artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns. She co-founded and co-organizes Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG), a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research initiative working to improve access to opportunity for historically disadvantaged communities. Abebe's research has informed policy and practice at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. Abebe has been honoured in the MIT Technology Reviews' 35 Innovators Under 35, ELLE, and the Bloomberg 50 list as a "one to watch." She has presented her research in venues including National Academy of Sciences, the United Nations, and the Museum of Modern Art. Abebe co-founded Black in AI, a non-profit organization tackling representation and inclusion issues in AI. Her research is deeply influenced by her upbringing in her hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.