Speaking at the Data Privacy Lab

I’m excited to be traveling to Harvard next Monday to give a talk at the Data Privacy Lab. The projects going on at the Data Privacy Lab are privacy-related: re-identification, discrimination in online ads, privacy-enhanced linking, fingerprint capture, genomic privacy, and complex-care patients.

My talk will not be entirely focused on privacy – it will basically be a somewhat technical version of my book followed by my proposals for technological tools that could address the problems associated with opaque, widespread, and destructive algorithms (my definition of a “Weapon of Math Destruction”. Specifically, I want to examine the question of how we understand a black-box algorithm in terms of measuring its outputs (as opposed to scrutinizing the source code).

The Data Privacy Lab is run by Latanya Sweeney, a hero of mine who did great work in detecting online discrimination in Google ads among other things. I’m hoping to meet her first because it’s always nice to meet your hero but also because, as the chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, she can give me perspective on the kind of technological tools that regulators such as the FTC and the CFPB might actually adopt (or develop).

In other words, I don’t want to spend 4 years developing tools that nobody would use. On the other hand, I have the impression that they generally speaking don’t know what kind of tools are possible.