Artificially Intelligent, Naturally Fair? Panel Discussion on Equitable Algorithms


In an increasingly data-driven world, algorithms play a pivotal role in shaping our lives, from determining what content we see on social media to influencing hiring decisions and resource allocation. The impact of these algorithms is not always equitable and can perpetuate bias and inequality, yet they also have the potential to foster a more just and inclusive world.

Join us online to learn about how research is addressing bias, discrimination, and ethical concerns in algorithm development. Our panel of experts will delve into the many challenges and opportunities, including the complexities behind the design of equitable algorithms, the biases they may unintentionally harbor, and the profound social implications they have.

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Panelists (Bios below):

  • Vince Conitzer, CMU Computer Science
  • Alexandra Olteanu, Microsoft Research
  • Monideepa Tarafdar, UMass Isenberg School of Management
  • Yair Zick, UMass Information & Computer Sciences
  • Ethan Zuckerman, UMass Communication, Information and Computer Sciences, Public Policy

This panel is co-organized by the Computational Social Science Institute (CSSI)Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR)The Equity, Accountability, Trust and Accountability Initiative (EQUATE), and Public Interest Technology Initiative (PIT @ UMass).

Speaker Biography

Panelists Bios:

Vincent Conitzer is Professor of Computer Science (with affiliate/courtesy appointments in Machine Learning, Philosophy, and the Tepper School of Business) at Carnegie Mellon University, where he directs the Foundations of Cooperative AI Lab (FOCAL). He is also Head of Technical AI Engagement at the Institute for Ethics in AI, and Professor of Computer Science and Philosophy, at the University of Oxford. Previous to joining CMU, Conitzer was the Kimberly J. Jenkins Distinguished University Professor of New Technologies and Professor of Computer Science, Professor of Economics, and Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. He received Ph.D. (2006) and M.S. (2003) degrees in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and an A.B. (2001) degree in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University. Conitzer has received the 2021 ACM/SIGAI Autonomous Agents Research Award, the Social Choice and Welfare Prize, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the IJCAI Computers and Thought Award, an NSF CAREER award, the inaugural Victor Lesser dissertation award, an honorable mention for the ACM dissertation award, and several awards for papers and service at the AAAI and AAMAS conferences. He has also been named a Guggenheim Fellow, a Sloan Fellow, a Kavli Fellow, a Bass Fellow, an ACM Fellow, a AAAI Fellow, and one of AI's Ten to Watch. He has served as program and/or general chair of the AAAI, AAMAS, AIES, COMSOC, and EC conferences. Conitzer and Preston McAfee were the founding Editors-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Economics and Computation (TEAC).

Alexandra Olteanu is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, where she is part of the Fairness, Accountability, Transparency, and Ethics (FATE) group. She is also an associate industry member at Mila. Her work routinely unpacks and challenges practices and assumptions made when designing, evaluating, and deploying a range of AI and other computational systems. Before joining Microsoft Research, Alexandra was a Social Good Fellow at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center. Alexandra has co-organized several tutorials/workshops at and has served on the program committee of all major ACM and AAAI web and social media conferences, including SIGIR, ICWSM, KDD, WSDM, The Web Conference, as the Tutorial co-chair for ICWSM 2018, 2020 and FAccT 2019, as track co-chair for The Web Conference inaugural Track on Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics on the Web, and as steering committee member for the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (2018-2023). Alexandra holds a Ph.D. in Computer and Communication Sciences from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.

Monideepa Tarafdar is the Charles J. Dockendorff Endowed Professor of Information Systems at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has held / holds visiting appointments at MIT Sloan School, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Weizenbaum Internet Institute, Berlin and London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust (UK) and the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC-UK). She is Principal Investigator of secured funding of over 1.5 million USD. She is Scientific Adviser to a Dublin start-up that designs programs in wellbeing-oriented use of IT for schools and corporates, and has been an invited member of the policy sub-group on Digital Skills of the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sports. Her work has been published in leading journals in Information Systems and Operations Management and has been covered by outlets such as BBC, The Economist, Reuters, Boston Globe and Wired. She serves in senior editorial roles in leading journals in Information Systems.

Yair Zick is an assistant professor at the College of Information Systems and Computer Sciences, UMass Amherst. Prior to that, he was an assistant professor at the NUS School of Computing. He obtained his PhD (mathematics) from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in 2014, and a B.Sc (mathematics, "Amirim" honors program) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research interests include computational fair division, computational social choice, algorithmic game theory and algorithmic transparency. He is the recipient of the 2011 AAMAS Best Student Paper award, the 2014 Victor Lesser IFAAMAS Distinguished Dissertation award, the 2016 ACM EC Best Paper award, the 2017 Singapore NRF Fellowship and the 2021 IJCAI Early Career Spotlight award.

Ethan Zuckerman is an associate professor of public policy, communication, and information,  at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as director of the UMass Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure, focused on reimagining the internet as a tool for civic engagement. Prior to coming to UMass, Zuckerman was at MIT, where he served as director of the Center for Civic Media and associate professor of practice in media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the role of technology in international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists. He is the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection, he will publish a new book, Mistrust: Why Losing Faith in Institutions Provides the Tools to Transform Them (W.W. Norton), in early 2021. In addition to authoring numerous academic articles, Zuckerman is a frequent contributor to media outlets such as The Atlantic, Wired, and CNN. He received his bachelor's degree from Williams College and, as a Fulbright scholar, studied at the University of Ghana at Legon.