Updates | 11.16.16

11.16: call for fellows; election; uncertainty; feedback

updates and ideas from the D&S community and beyond

Around the Institute

A commitment to knowledge is more important now than ever. In the wake of the US presidential election, we reflect on Data & Society’s purpose and mode…

We are now accepting applications for the 2017-18 class of Data & Society fellows!
This program is core to Data & Society’s dual mission of producing rigorous research that can have impact, and supporting and connecting the young but growing field of actors working on the social, cultural, and political effects of data. Apply by December 19.

In addition to our fellows call, check out our other ongoing calls: Director of Communications [applications due Nov 21], postdoctoral scholars [applications due Dec 6], and “Privacy at the Margins” CFP [abstracts due Dec 6].

Points: The Inescapability of Uncertainty: AI, Uncertainty, and Why You Should Vote No Matter What Predictions Say
Before the US presidential election, computer scientists Jennifer Wortman Vaughan and Hanna Wallach addressed issues around AI and uncertainty, prediction and human behavior: “When making predictions about an election, prospective voters — the very people whose collective actions we would like to predict — are influenced by the predictions themselves.”

Points: Data & Society (continues to) read Weapons of Math Destruction
Jacob Metcalf adds his thoughts—Ethics review for pernicious feedback loops—to our collection of responses to Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction: “Algorithms not only model, they also create. For researchers grappling with the ethics of data analytics, these feedback loops are the most challenging to our familiar tools for science and technology ethics.”

Internet politics: a feminist guide to navigating online power
Zara Rahman explores the dynamics of digital control and power in feminist activism: “Though the long term goal might be daunting, the first step of recognising the political importance of our technical decisions is within reach, leading ultimately to reclaiming power and control of our activism in the digital sphere as well as in the offline world.”

Around the Around

Should You Spy on Your Kids?
“Teenagers share their passwords for social media and other accounts with boyfriends and girlfriends. ‘They learned this from watching us and from the language we used when we explained why we demanded to have their passwords,’ [danah boyd] said. ‘And this is all fine, albeit weird, in a healthy relationship. But devastating in an unhealthy one.'” —Nick Wingfield

We Need to Stop Taking Facebook’s Word For It
“Facebook is the sole keeper of the data and it doesn’t freely offer it to independent researchers either. ‘Though the researchers claim to give access to the data they use, this data still needs to be requested by researchers…, and as of yet, no researchers have independently verified these claims,’ [Robyn] Caplan wrote.” —William Turton

How Data Failed Us in Calling an Election
“The election prediction business is one small aspect of a far-reaching change across industries that have increasingly become obsessed with data, the value of it and the potential to mine it for cost-saving and profit-making insights. It is a behind-the-scenes technology that quietly drives everything from the ads that people see online to billion-dollar acquisition deals.” —Steve Lohr, Natasha Singer


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