Symposium to explore bias in automation, algorithms

Published April 14, 2021

The University Libraries will host a symposium that explores the impact of bias in automation and algorithms present in services ranging from Google Earth to the algorithms used by governments to guide and enforce policy.

The virtual event, scheduled from 12:30—4 p.m. April 16 on Zoom, is sponsored by the UB Digital Scholarship Studio and Network. Guests are encouraged to register online.

Moderated by Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, vice provost of the University Libraries, the symposium will feature three speakers:

  • “Settler Colonial Bias in GIS” by Sarah Montoya. A doctoral candidate in the Department of Gender Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, Montoya will explore how development of information and communication infrastructures in the United States are an outcome of settler colonialism.
  • “What is the future of algorithmic auditing? Two different scenarios” by Cathy O’Neil. O’Neil, a mathematician, data scientist and founder of the blog, will present the case for and against algorithmic auditing. She is the recipient of the Alice T. Schafer Prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics. Her books include “Weapons of Math Destruction,” “On Being a Data Skeptic” and “Doing Data Science: Straight Talk from the Frontline.”
  • “Automation of Judgments and the Ends of Thinking” by Ewa Plonowska Ziarek. Ziarek, Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature, UB College of Arts and Sciences, will examine the harms to participatory democracy created by the increasing role of algorithmic governance in the public sphere and legal institutions. Ziarek is also a senior research fellow and adjunct professor of continental philosophy at Western Sydney University, Australia, and a visiting faculty member in the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. She recently co-authored “Arendt, Natality and Biopolitics: Towards Democratic Plurality and Reproductive Justice.”