2017 Fall Semester Theme: Big Data

In 2012, discount retailer Target caused a minor controversy by sending maternity coupons to a pregnant teenager who had not yet disclosed this fact. What really happens when you scan your loyalty card at a retailer, when you type something into your browser’s search bar, or when you “like” something on Facebook? Everything that exists can be measured, from whole-genome sequences to consumer behavior. We are, as novelist Don DeLillo put it thirty years ago, “the sum total of our data.” Our fall 2017 theme will explore questions such as: Who is collecting this data? What are they doing with it? What implications does this have for privacy and individual liberty? Can Big Data transcend the biases and prejudices inherent in human decision making, or merely provide a quantitative justification for the reinforcement of systemic inequalities? Included will be topics such as privacy and social media; genomics and personalized medicine; climate and economic modeling; the spread of viral and fake news; and the psychological aspects of data-driven decision making.

Programs Related to the Theme

Monday, October 23, 2017
Fairness and Accountability in Algorithmic Culture
danah boyd
, principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder of Data & Society