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Towards a Social Good? Theories of Change in AI
natalie saltiel · Rashida Richardson · Sarah T. Hamid

Sat Dec 14 10:30 AM -- 11:30 AM (PST) @
Event URL: https://aiforsocialgood.github.io/neurips2019/schedule.htm »

Considerable hope and energy is put into AI -- and its critique -- under the assumption that the field will make the world a “better” place by maximizing social good. Will it? For who? At what time scale? Most importantly, who defines "social good"?

This panel invites dissent. Leading voices will pick apart these questions by sharing their own competing theories of social change in relation to AI. In addition to answering audience questions, they will share how they decide on trade-offs between pragmatism and principles and how they resist elements of AI research that are known to be dangerous and/or socially degenerative, particularly in relation to surveillance, criminal justice and privacy.

We undertake a probing and genuine conversation around these questions. Audience members are invited to submit questions at: https://app.sli.do/event/yndumbf3/live/questions.

Facilitators bio: Dhaval Adjodah is a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. His research investigates the current limitations of generalization in machine learning as well as how to move beyond them by leveraging the social cognitive adaptations humans evolved to collaborate effectively at scale. Beyond pushing the limits of modern machine learning, he is also interested in improving institutions by using online human experiments to better understand the cognitive limits and biases that affect everyday individual economic, political, and social decisions. During his PhD, Dhaval was an intern in Prof. Yoshua Bengio's group at MILA, a member of the Harvard Berkman Assembly on Ethics and Governance in Artificial Intelligence, and a fellow at the Dalai Lama Center For Ethics And Transformative Values. He has a B.S. in Physics from MIT, and an M.S. in Technology Policy from the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society.

Natalie Saltiel (MIT)

Speakers bio: Dr. Prem Natarajan is a Vice President in Amazon’s Alexa unit where he leads the Natural Understanding (NU) organization within Alexa AI. NU is a multidisciplinary science and engineering organization that develops, deploys, and maintains state-of-the-art conversational AI technologies including natural language understanding, intelligent dialog systems, entity linking and resolution, and associated worldwide runtime operations. Dr. Natarajan joined Amazon from the University of Southern California (USC) where he was Senior Vice Dean of Engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering, Executive Director of the Information Sciences Institute (a 300-person R&D organization), and Research Professor of computer science with distinction. Prior to that, as Executive VP at Raytheon BBN Technologies, he led the speech, language, and multimedia business unit, which included research and development operations, and commercial products for real-time multimedia monitoring, document analysis, and information extraction. During his tenure at USC and at BBN, Dr. Natarajan directed R&D efforts in speech recognition, natural language processing, computer vision, and other applications of machine learning. While at USC, he directly led nationally influential DARPA and IARPA sponsored research efforts in biometrics/face recognition, OCR, NLP, media forensics, and forecasting. Most recently, he helped to launch the Fairness in AI (FAI) program – a collaborative effort between NSF and Amazon for funding fairness focused research efforts in US Universities.

Rashida Richardson: As Director of Policy Research, Rashida designs, implements, and coordinates AI Now’s research strategy and initiatives on the topics of law, policy, and civil rights. Rashida joins AI Now after working as Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of New York (NYCLU), where she led the organization’s work on privacy, technology, surveillance, and education issues. Prior to the NYCLU, she was a staff attorney at the Center for HIV Law and Policy, where she worked on a wide-range of HIV-related legal and policy issues nationally, and she previously worked at Facebook Inc. and HIP Investor in San Francisco. Rashida currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Wesleyan University, the Advisory Board of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, the Board of Directors of the College & Community Fellowship, and she is an affiliate and Advisory Board member of the Center for Critical Race + Digital Studies. She received her BA with honors in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University and her JD from Northeastern University School of Law.

Sarah T. Hamid is an abolitionist and organizer in Southern California, working to build community defense against carceral technologies. She's built and worked on campaigns against predictive policing, risk assessment technologies, public/private surveillance partnerships, electronic monitoring, and automated border screening. In March 2019, she co-founded the Prison Tech Research Group (PTR-Grp), a coalition of abolitionists working on the intersection of technology/innovation and the prison-industrial complex. PTR-Grp focuses on private-public research partnerships deployed under the guise of prison reform, which stage the prison as a site for technological innovation and low-cost testing. The project centers the needs and safety of incarcerated and directly impacted people who face the violently expropriative data science industry with few safety nets. Sarah also facilitates the monthly convening of the Community Defense Syllabus, during which activists of color from all over the country work to theorize the intersection of race and carceral computing. In 2020, she will lead the launch and roll-out of the Carceral Tech Resistance Network, a community archive and knowledge-sharing project that seeks to amplify the capacity of community organizations to resist the encroachment and experimentation of harmful technologies.

Author Information

natalie saltiel (MIT)
Rashida Richardson (AI Now Institute)

As Director of Policy Research for AI Now, Rashida designs, implements, and coordinates AI Now’s research strategy and initiatives on the topics of law, policy, and civil rights. Rashida joined AI Now after working as Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of New York (NYCLU), where she led the organization’s work on privacy, technology, surveillance, and education issues. Prior to the NYCLU, she was a staff attorney at the Center for HIV Law and Policy, where she worked on a wide-range of HIV-related legal and policy issues nationally, and she previously worked at Facebook Inc. and HIP Investor in San Francisco. Rashida currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Wesleyan University, the Advisory Board of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, the Board of Directors of the College & Community Fellowship, and she is an affiliate and Advisory Board member of the Center for Critical Race + Digital Studies. She received her BA with honors in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University and her JD from Northeastern University School of Law.

Sarah T. Hamid (Carceral Tech Resistance Network)

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