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Impressions of differential privacy for supreme court justices

This is Jessica. A couple weeks ago Priyanka Nanayakkara pointed me to the fact that Alabama is suing the Census Bureau on the grounds that by using differential privacy it is “intentionally skew[ing] the population tabulations provided to States to use for redistricting” and “forc[ing] Alabama to redistrict using results that purposefully count people in […]

What can the anthropic principle tell us about visualization?

            Andrew’s post on the anthropic principle implies statistical problems are one of three types:  Those that are so easy that you don’t need stats (the signal is very strong relative to noise). Those that require stats because there’s some noise or confounding to be dealt with to recover the […]

What did ML researchers talk about in their broader impacts statements?

This is Jessica. A few months back I became fascinated with the NeurIPS broader impact statement “experiment” where NeurIPS organizers asked all authors to in some way address the broader societal implications of their work. It’s an interesting exercise in requiring researchers to make predictions under uncertainty about societal factors they might not be used […]

Formalizing questions about feedback loops from model predictions

This is Jessica. Recently I asked a question about when a model developer should try to estimate the relationship between model predictions and the observed behavior that results when people have access to the model predictions. Kenneth Tay suggested a recent machine learning paper on Performative Prediction by Juan Perdomo Tijana Zrnic. Celestine Mendler-Dunner and […]

When can a predictive model improve by anticipating behavioral reactions to its predictions?

This is Jessica. Most of my research involves data interfaces in some way or another, and recently I’ve felt pulled toward asking more theoretical questions about what effects interfaces can or should have in different settings. For instance, the title of the post is one question I’ve started thinking about: In situations where a statistical […]

Is explainability the new uncertainty?

This is Jessica. Last August, NIST published a draft document describing four principles of explainable AI. They asked for feedback from the public at large, to “stimulate a conversation about what we should expect of our decision-making devices‘’.  I find it interesting because from a quick skim, it seems like NIST is stepping into some […]

The both both of science reform

This is Jessica. I pay some attention to what gets discussed in methodological/statistical reform research and discussions, and I’m probably not the only one who’s watched as the movement (at least in psychology) seems to be getting more self-aware recently. The other day I jotted down what strike me as some yet-unresolved tensions worth reflecting […]

Science reform can get so personal

This is Jessica. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about philosophy of science, motivated by both a longtime interest in methodological reform in the social sciences and a more recent interest in proposed ethics problems and reforms in computer science. The observation I want to share is not intended to support any particular stance, but […]

Ethics washing, ethics bashing

This is Jessica. Google continues to have a moment among those interested in tech ethics, after firing the other half (with Timnit Gebru) of their ethical AI leadership, Margaret Mitchell, who had founded the ethical AI team. Previously I commented on potential problems behind the review process that led to a paper that Gebru and […]

Computation+Journalism 2021 this Friday

This post is by Jessica. Last year I was program chair for Computation+Journalism, a conference that brings together computer scientists and other researchers with journalists to brainstorm about the future of journalism. I spent a bunch of time organizing a program around the theme of uncertainty communication and then massive uncertainty due to covid-19 hit […]

Let them log scale

This post may seem like it’s on a six month delay, but actually it’s not! Alexey Guzey sends a link to this blog post about a study done by some researchers at LSE and Yale earlier in pandemic history on how well understood log scales are. They randomly assigned 2000 American adults recruited online to […]

I was drunk at the podium, and I knew my results weren’t strong

So I left in mid-lecture tempted by a reform song The plenary hall it shifted as they turned to watch me leave And I pulled a little p-curve from the pocket in my sleeve The variation it was stronger to my dichotomizing eyes Than the light which had blinded me with Fisher’s own half-lies Yes […]

Tukeyian uphill battles

It seems that at least once a year, I find myself begging someone to make exploratory plots of some experimental data. I say begging because I have found that often when I’m being presented with some analysis and I ask questions like Did you plot all the variables first? or Did you look at this […]

Subtleties of discretized density plots

Many people are familiar with the idea that reformatting a probability as a frequency can sometimes help people better reason with it (such as on classic Bayesian reasoning problems involving conditional probability). In a visualization context, discretizing a representation of uncertainty, or really any probability distribution, can be useful for other reasons. For instance, by […]

Authors retract the Nature Communications paper on female mentors

The paper “The association between early career informal mentorship in academic collaborations and junior author performance” that I (Jessica) previously blogged about has been retracted from Nature Communications.  Here’s the authors’ statement: The Authors are retracting this Article in response to criticisms about the assumptions underpinning the Article in terms of the identification of mentorship […]

Update on IEEE’s refusal to issue corrections

This is Jessica. Below is an update from Steve Haroz on his previously shared attempt to get a correction to an IEEE published paper. A week ago, I wrote about IEEE’s refusal to issue corrections for errors we made in our paper, “Skipping the Replication Crisis in Visualization: Threats to Study Validity and How to […]

The NeurIPS 2020 broader impacts experiment

This year NeurIPS, a top machine learning conference, required a broader impacts statement from authors. From the call:  In order to provide a balanced perspective, authors are required to include a statement of the potential broader impact of their work, including its ethical aspects and future societal consequences. Authors should take care to discuss both […]

IEEE’s Refusal to Issue Corrections

This is Jessica. The following was written by a colleague Steve Haroz on his attempt to make corrections to a paper he wrote published by IEEE (which, according to Wikipedia, publishes “over 30% of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields.”) One of the basic Mertonion norms of science […]

What’s Google’s definition of retractable?

Timnit Gebru, a computer scientist known best for her work on ethics and algorithmic bias in AI/ML applications like face recognition, was fired yesterday from co-leading Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team. Apparently this was triggered by an email she sent to members of her team. Social media is exploding over this, and I don’t have […]

Are female scientists worse mentors? This study pretends to know

A new paper in Nature communications, The association between early career informal mentorship in academic collaborations and junior author performance, by AlShebli, Makovi, and Rahwan, caught my attention. There are a number of issues but what bothered me the most is the post-hoc speculation about what might be driving the associations. Here’s the abstract: We […]

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