By Mary Huber
After Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast in 2012, 911 systems became so overloaded that people couldn’t get through by phone to report an emergency. At a loss for how to reach out for help, people turned to Twitter to post distress calls, which the New York Fire Department began fielding and responding to.
It was one of the first times social media was used this way during a major disaster, demonstrating that the internet can be a powerful tool when it comes to emergency response.
But with millions of people posting content on platforms…
In March 2021, Good Systems hosted a first-of-its-kind event with the World Economic Forum, inviting researchers and industry leaders to talk about government procurement of artificial intelligence, or — simply — how state, local, and federal government agencies buy AI technologies like computer vision, used for everything from autonomous vehicles and facial recognition, and natural language processing for things like virtual assistants or chatbots. Because we live in a world where artificial intelligence is rapidly finding its way into all facets of our lives, it’s critical that we consider the long-term ramifications and ethical implications of those technologies.
By Tina Lassiter
Issues surrounding the ethical uses of AI make front page news all the time. In 2020, Amazon paused police use of facial recognition software because of rising criticism from civil rights activists about its tendency to misidentify Black and Hispanic people. The use of video surveillance tools to create smart cities has raised privacy concerns as well, like when using cameras to improve traffic flows. Films like “Coded Bias” or “The Social Dilemma” raise questions about the implicit bias in AI and on social media [when people unconsciously hold attitudes toward others or associate stereotypes with them]…
You might not know it, but surveillance is happening all around us all the time. Businesses, governments, and nonstate actors are gathering information — whether it’s to sell us something on social media or screen us when we apply for a home loan. Researchers from both The University of Texas at Austin and New York University participated in a Good Systems panel last month where they discussed various types of surveillance. We caught up with a few of them to find out more about this sometimes obvious (but often elusive) practice. …
By Mary Huber
Maria De-Arteaga was working remotely as an investigative journalist in Madrid when she realized that data mining and machine learning could help to uncover social problems in the developing world. She was looking into a highway that Brazil had built through the Amazon rainforest to reach a port on the Pacific Ocean. She was scanning hundreds of contracts and spreadsheets, hunting for financial anomalies between what was promised in contracts and what was actually delivered. She thought there had to be a better way.
De-Arteaga thought machine learning would more quickly allow her to recognize patterns and…
By Keri Stephens
Keri Stephens, a University of Texas at Austin professor in organizational communication technology, is a Good Systems Grand Challenge researcher whose work has centered around the role of technology in organizations, particularly in the context of crisis, disaster, and health. Here, Stephens discusses the effects of using personal mobile devices for work and how to secure data while also maintaining privacy.
When I was in graduate school, I remember standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, watching a toddler get her mom’s phone from her purse, type in her password and start playing games. Her…
By Mary Huber
When we think of the robots in practical use today, the most common are stationary robots that help assemble parts in automotive factories or can assist in performing delicate medical surgeries.
Building a robot that can move within the human world with all its unpredictable variables, like self-driving cars, is oftentimes more difficult.
Researchers and students led by Associate Professor Junfeng Jiao at The University of Texas at Austin have been taking that challenge — crafting robots that students can call up via an iOS app to perform contactless deliveries on campus, much like Uber and Lyft.
By: Mary Huber
As digital assistants like Siri and Alexa become more common in our lives, people increasingly see them as companions that accompany them throughout their day. Young children, especially, are more apt to see these devices as real people or friends.
University of Texas researcher S. Craig Watkins, Journalism and Media professor in the Moody College of Communication, says that’s why it is more important than ever that these devices reflect the diverse backgrounds of their users.
By: Mary Huber
Libraries and archives keep the stories of our past alive into the future. But they don’t tell all stories. Some communities are overlooked, and this is where digital platforms like Instagram and Twitter have increasingly started to fill in the gaps — telling the stories of groups who aren’t well documented and even those stories that get erased through internet censorship.
Information scientists Lucy Flamm and Dr. Amelia Acker at The University of Texas at Austin have been looking at these community archives — digital records created by individuals rather than libraries — to better understand how…
By Kenneth Fleischmann and Junfeng Jiao
Interdisciplinarity runs in my blood. I have degrees in computer science, anthropology, and science and technology studies along with a faculty appointment as a professor in the School of Information. However, I never imagined having the opportunity to be involved in interdisciplinary research at the scale that I have with Good Systems.
It has been a pleasure and honor to have had the opportunity to be involved in the grand challenge from the start as the executive team’s founding chair. As I prepare to pass the torch to Chair-Elect Junfeng Jiao, associate professor in…
We're an interdisciplinary grand challenge team at @UTAustin seeking to ensure that A.I. is designed to be compatible with human values.