The RTI’s student network is delighted to host Upol Ehsan, researcher in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, for this online discussion.

When an algorithm causes harm, is it enough to merely stop using it? 

Upol will present the concept of the Algorithmic Imprint that illustrates how algorithmic harms can persist even in an algorithm’s afterlife. Merely destroying the algorithm does not undo or mitigate its harms. The concept will be illustrated through a case study around the 2020 Ofqual algorithmic grading scandal of the GCE exams. Instead of the events in the UK, which have received the lion’s share of the media coverage, the talk will focus on events in Bangladesh, a member of the commonwealth (ex-British colony) and one of the 160 countries where GCE exams are administered. The focus on the Global South will illustrate how algorithms made in the Global North disproportionately impact stakeholders in the Global South. The Algorithmic Imprint carries practical implications for both policy makers and technologists because it changes how we think about algorithmic impact and governance. Even though algorithms are made of “soft”-ware, they can leave “hard” and persistent imprints at the infrastructural, social, and individual levels. There is no undo button for an algorithmic deployment.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A, including members of the RTI and invited guests, to take a look at some of the behind-the-scenes stories of the development of the Algorithmic Imprint. We will also discuss the interplay between algorithmic deployments, their imprints, and colonial relationships in a post-colonial world.

To register for this talk, please click here.

You will be sent a Zoom link closer to the event.

Speaker bio

Upol Ehsan is a doctoral candidate in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and an affiliate at the Data & Society Research Institute. Combining his expertise in AI and Philosophy, his work in Explainable AI (XAI) coined the term and has charted the visions of Human-centered Explainable AI (a sub-field of XAI) to foster a future where anyone, regardless of their background, can use AI-powered technology with dignity. His work has received multiple awards in top-tier academic venues like CHI and been covered in major media outlets. He serves in program committees in HCI and AI conferences (e.g., DIS, IUI, CHI, NeurIPS) and is a co-founding organizer of the widely attended Human-centered XAI workshops at CHI. By promoting equity and ethics in AI, he wants to ensure stakeholders who aren’t at the table do not end up on the menu. Outside research, he is also an advisor for Aalor Asha, an educational institute he started for underprivileged children subjected to child labor.

Feel free to connect with him on Twitter: @upolehsan