Have you ever scrolled through social media and noticed advertisements that show you exactly what you’ve been looking for? Have you noticed how platforms like TikTok and Instagram often show you content that keeps you scrolling on the platform for much longer than you were anticipating? Does it sometimes seem like Spotify just ‘gets you’ in a way that Pandora’s music recommendations never did?
If you’ve ever experienced any of this, then you have interacted with a Recommender System. …
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…
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…
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. You realize that you can pull a lever to switch the trolley to an alternate track, saving the lives of these boys. Before you pull the lever though, you see there is a young girl who is playing on the tracks of the alternate route. Pulling this lever would mean ending her life. …
Data science is truly an interdisciplinary field.
Mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, social scientists, database administrators, data engineers, graphic designers, UI experts, journalists, storytellers, researchers, and business administrators are among many individuals involved in the process.
As machine learning and AI continue to advance, philosophers and ethicists will hopefully be included in the process as well.
Data science is powerful. If used correctly, it grants access to:
The story goes like this:
Trust • Corruption • Transparency • DataViz • Journalism
I’m currently volunteering at a data journalism startup in Cali, Colombia. In the past two weeks I’ve had meetings with business owners, students, mayoral candidates, and government officials to dive deep into data.
I’ve learned some interesting things.
The city of Cali is one of a few places in Latin America that has really begun to push for open data. Two years ago, the Alcaldía (Town Hall) created the Advisory Office of Transparency to aide in their efforts. …
It was a Sunday afternoon. Dark clouds filled every inch of the sky. The cobblestone streets felt eerily empty, most merchant stands had been abandoned for morning Mass. Terracotta roofs soaked up the gentle drips of rain. Several blocks away church bells clanged over one another in a dissonant harmony.
I sat on a park bench slurping at a freshly picked mango, dripping the juices onto my dirt-caked trousers, traveling as I had been for months now; alone.
A man approached me, pushing a styrofoam cooler on a rusting cart with his son in tow. He asked if I wanted…
Science has always been a race to the finish line.
In 1945, the United States placed first in the race to create a nuclear weapon. In 1961, the Soviet Union placed first in the race to send a man to space. In 2018, China placed first in the race to create the first genetically engineered human with CRISPR.
There are many races to come. Humanity has registered for quite a few competitions within the next several decades, including but not limited to:
Two months ago, I graduated college with a degree in Software Engineering. Now that I’ve had about 5 years of coding under my belt, I can genuinely say that I’ve felt confused by technology exponentially more times than I have understood it. I know I’m not alone in this regard.
For me, writing articles about tech ethics was originally an excuse to put more research into topics that interested me. But, as I began to read more, and as I began to write more… I realized that my words were influencing others.
It might be a widely known fact, but I was definitely shocked to learn that the inventor(s) of bitcoin is (are) anonymous. Was a hidden identity meant to act as a metaphor for blockchain’s online anonymity? Or was it a way to hide from blame for unleashing a system into the world that holds enough power to eventually rule global currency, with no centralized entity to regulate it?
I don’t have an answer to that question. I don’t think blockchain ethics has been discussed enough for us to know yet. …