Marquette University
Press Release

Marquette to host fifth annual Ethics of Big Data Symposium virtually, Oct. 9


By - Oct 5th, 2020 02:01 pm
Ruha Benjamin. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Ruha Benjamin. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University will host the fifth annual Ethics of Big Data Symposium, titled “Race, Representation and Justice,” as a virtual event on Friday, Oct. 9, at 2:30 p.m. Dr. Ruha Benjamin, associate professor of African American studies at Princeton University, will deliver the plenary address exploring how data intersects with critical issues such as race, representation and justice in and across communities.

The symposium is organized by the Department of Computer Science and the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. Registration for the virtual event is free and available online.

Looking at the events of 2020, it cannot be ignored how issues of race, representation and justice intersect with the growing reliance on data, algorithms and computational approaches in nearly all aspects of life. Big data increasingly impacts how information flows across networks, how law enforcement and the criminal justice system operate in our communities, how individuals and communities are made visible (or invisible), how public and social services are dispersed, and, most fundamentally, how justice might be possible in society.

Benjamin studies the social dimensions of science, technology and medicine at Princeton and founded the IDA B. WELLS Just Data Lab. She speaks widely on issues of innovation, equity, health and justice. She has written two books, “People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier,” a look at the tension between scientific innovation and social equality in California’s 2004 stem cell initiative; and “Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code,” which examines the relationship between machine bias and systemic racism, analyzing specific cases of discriminatory design.

The plenary address will be followed by a question and answer session with Dr. Alex Hanna, a sociologist and research scientist working on machine learning fairness and ethical AI at Google, and Dr. Anna Lauren Hoffmann, assistant professor with The Information School at the University of Washington.

The Ethics of Big Data Symposium was started in 2016 to address the shifting focus of computer science from computing intensive operations to data intensive operations, and the ethical concerns surrounding who is generating data, what this data is being used for, and how enterprises use this data to promote their own growth. The symposium brings together multi-disciplinary voices from areas such as computer science, sociology, business, health sciences, law and philosophy, for discussions on data security, awakening to the privacy risks and the ethical and legal considerations for practitioners.

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