CS Distinguished Lecture Series 2022/2023


Fred Kaiser Building (2332 Main Mall), Room 2020/2030

Speaker:  Dr. Barbara J. Grosz, Higgins Research Professor of Natural Sciences, Harvard University

Title:   Fostering Responsible Computing Research

Abstract:  The U.S. National Academies appointed a study committee on responsible computing research in recognition of the extensive reach of computing technologies, the speed at which computing research advances may be deployed in them, and their potential for ethical and societal impact. The committee, which comprised expertise in the social sciences, philosophy and law as well as diverse areas of computer science and engineering, information science, and computing technology development, was charged with investigating the “personal and social consequences of computing research and its applications” and recommending approaches and best practices that computing researchers and the computing research community could take to address these impacts “in all phases of research from proposal to publication”. The committee’s recently released report provides for computing researchers descriptions and discussions of fundamental ethical concepts and socio-technical methods as well as presentations of an illustrative set of sources of ethical and societal concerns for computing research. In this talk, I will present the major findings, conclusions and recommendations of the report. I will then offer some personal reflections on implementation of the recommendations, focusing on those that impact academic institutions and researchers, and solicit the audience’s thoughts on how to shape implementations so they work in their research environments.

Barbara J. Grosz is Higgins Research Professor of Natural Sciences in the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Her groundbreaking contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence include fundamental advances in natural language dialogue processing and in theories of multi-agent collaboration and their application to human-computer interaction as well as innovative uses of models developed in this research to improve healthcare coordination and science education. She co-founded Harvard's Embedded Ethics program, which integrates teaching of ethical reasoning into core computer science courses. She chaired the 2022 National Academies Study “Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices”. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Prof. Grosz is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), the ACM, and the AAAS, and a corresponding fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She received the 2009 ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award, the 2015 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence, and the 2017 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also known for her leadership of interdisciplinary institutions and for contributions to the advancement of women in science.

Host: Margo Seltzer, Professor, UBC Computer Science