Category: Insights


When Algorithms Give Real Students Imaginary Grades

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This op-ed by Meredith Broussard throws light on the extremely troubling use of predictive grading for assessing the International Baccalaureate examinations, which recently gave thousands of students a failing grade based on data points like the student’s socio-economic demographics, teacher estimated grades, and other measures. Broussard discusses how the algorithms enabling predictive grading are rooted …

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Twitter Apologizes for Racist Image-Cropping Algorithm

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This news article published in The Guardian covers Twitter’s response to a racist image cropping algorithm that automatically focused on White faces over Black ones. The article notes that Twitter isn’t the first or only technology company struggling to explain the racist basis of its algorithms, and discusses similar issues in the Google Photos service. …

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The Authoritarian Trade-Off

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In this fascinating article, the media theorist Jathan Sadowski casts a critical eye on the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has become a cover for the expansion of state surveillance across the world. Sadowski discusses the ways in which the opaque processes like contact tracing, social-network analysis, and other ways of dealing with the …

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Google offers to help others with the tricky ethics of AI

Google is planning to offer new services to tech companies regarding AI ethics, despite having a spotty past itself on such issues. Some services are specific, such as detecting racial biases in computing vision technology (e.g., that is involved in facial recognition software), but they also plan to offer general advice on developing ethical frameworks. …

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Toward Anti-Racist Technical Terminology

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The rootedness of racialized language in technical terminology has been a matter of tense critique for many years. Following their statement on Black Lives Matter, the Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) has offered a guide to help Digital Humanities centers, labs, developers, and other technologists be mindful of the technical terminology embedded in …

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What Can the Humanities Do for Data Science?

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The paper ‘Challenges and prospects of the intersection of humanities and data science: A white paper from The Alan Turing Institute’, has been produced by The Alan Turing Institute’s Humanities and Data Science special interest group – an extensive, multidisciplinary group of researchers from a wide range of universities and cultural organizations including The National Archives, The British Library and The National Library of …

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What Can America Learn from Europe About Regulating Big Tech?

This fascinating article from The New Yorker profiles Marietje Schaake, a former member of the European Parliament and currently the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center. The article provides an overview of Schaake’s career and opinions within the larger context of the importance of government regulation over large informational technology companies. Transnational tech …

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Tech’s ever-growing deepfake problem

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The run-up to the U.S. presidential election is also speeding up the arrival of a tipping point for digital fakery in politics, Axios’ Ashley Gold reports. As the election, a pandemic and a national protest movement collide with new media technology, this political moment is accelerating the proliferation and evolution of deliberately deceptive media, leaving …

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Bias in AI and New York City’s governance

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Though many people might not realize it, complicated algorithms, including AI in some cases, help cities like New York make decisions every day about everything from where kids should go to school to who should receive extra screening from police and which neighborhoods should have more fire stations. These systems have the potential to help …

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A Time for Research Distancing

In this thought-provoking post, Alan MacEachern & William J. Turkel discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended research practices and expectations in the humanities, especially in disciplines that require visits to archives. MacEachern & Turkel provide suggestions for devising an effective workflow for prioritizing digital archival research. Particularly germane is their observation that “a reliance …

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