Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Nagy Arnold on Unsplash

And why computer science needs help from the humanities

About nine months ago, I applied for the GRFP — a PhD fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

In the application, I proposed to research how computer scientists encode ethics and values into machine learning algorithms, and how ML designers can better understand the societal implications of their design choices.

For example, if an ML engineer designs a decision-making system to be more fair, what definition of fairness are they using? What evaluation metrics are they choosing to optimize for? And what are the societal consequences of choosing one metric or definition over another?

I proposed to research the potential harm of algorithmically-embedded social issues like value tradeoffs and what to do in the event of a value conflict when designing an ML system. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Mael BALLAND on Unsplash

The Politics of Social Media

Internet • Policy • Fake News • Tech • Algorithmic Harm • Society

What was the world like before social media? How did society look before Six Degrees, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook?

In 2004, MySpace became the first social media site to reach 1 million monthly active users. Today, Facebook has over 1.62 billion DAILY active users. While companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger have helped this number grow, there is no denying that social media has become deeply embedded in society.

Rapid technological change doesn’t come without a cost. Users have slowly evolved social media platforms to fit their UX needs, but it is often forgotten how social media equally influences society. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Justin Bautista on Unsplash

You are the conductor of a run-a-way trolley that is hurtling down its track at 85 miles an hour, heading straight for a group of young boys playing on the tracks, blissfully unaware of their impending doom. …


Jessie J. Smith

PhD Student, Researching and Creating Technical Solutions to Ethical Problems in Society. Talking about AI Ethics at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store