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Machines, Minds, and Morality: Ethics in a Changing Technological World


Friday, April 5, 2019, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Rotwitt Theater, Dorothy McKenna Brown Science Building

Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Rosemont College, Bryn Mawr PA 


Few would question the fact that advances in technology, particularly in machine learning and artificial intelligence, have improved our lives and helped increase efficiency in a variety of ways. But novel technologies inevitably raise important ethical questions, and in the case of these kinds of technologies, the stakes are quite high. It is crucial to have dialogue on issues such as Big Data and transparency (do you know how much Google knows about you?), algorithmic biases (do some hiring tests exclude persons from low-income neighborhoods?), self-driving cars (should a car be programmed to swerve and potentially kill a pedestrian if it can avoid killing five?), the underrepresentation of women and other minorities in computer science and technology fields, and many others, before these technologies become embedded in our daily lives. 

“The Benefits, Dangers and Dilemmas of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence,” will be delivered by David J. Farber, co-Director of the Cyber Civilization Research Center at Keio University (Tokyo). Dr. Farber’s pioneering research at Bell Labs in the 1950s contributed to the development of the Internet as we know it today. The keynote talk will be followed by a presentation by Dr. Michael Kearns, Chair of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.  A culminating roundtable discussion will include Dr. Sorelle Friedler (Haverford College) and Bilita Mattes (Provost and CAO, Harrisburg University).  The event is free and open to the public.

8:30 – 9:05 a.m.    

Registration/Continental Breakfast/Networking

9:10 – 9:30 a.m.   

Welcome: Sharon L. Hirsh, Ph.D. ’70

Opening Remarks: Lisa Dolling, Ph.D. 

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Keynote Presentation: “The Benefits, Dangers and Dilemmas of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence”

David J. Farber, Cyber Civilization Research Center, Keio University (Tokyo)      

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.


10:50 – 11:50 a.m.

Michael Kearns, Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania

11:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m.


12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Roundtable Discussion

Moderator: Sydney Weinstein (Society for Information Management)

David J. Farber (Keio University)

Sorelle Friedler (Haverford College)

Michael Kearns (University of Pennsylvania)

Bilita Mattes (Provost and CAO, Harrisburg University)


David J. FarberDavid J. Farber, Ph.D.

Dr. Farber is co-Director of the Cyber Civilization Research Center at Keio University (Tokyo). He was the Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy at the School of Computer Science (SCS) at Carnegie Mellon University with secondary appointments at the Heinz School and EPP prior to his retirement. He is also the Adjunct Professor of Internet Studies in SCS and Adjunct Professor in EPP, and a Visiting Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stevens Institute of Technology.

In 2003, he retired from the University of Pennsylvania where he holds the Alfred Fitler Moore Emeritus Professor of Telecommunication Systems and held appointments in the Engineering School and the Wharton School. His background includes roles at Bell Labs, the Rand Corporation, Xerox Data Systems, University of California at Irvine, and the University of Delaware.

From 2000 to 2001, he served as Chief Technologist for the Federal Communications Commission. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), ISC (Internet Systems Consortium) and the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Prior to his appointment to the FCC, he served on the U.S. Presidential Advisory Committee of Information Technology.

He was awarded the SIGCOMM Award for life-long contributions to communications and the City of Philadelphia’s John Scott award for Contributions to Humanity as well as an Honorary Doctorate from Stevens Institute of Technology. He has also been recognized as a Pioneer of the Internet Society Hall of Fame. 

Michael KearnsMichael Kearns, Ph.D.

Michael Kearns is a professor in the Computer and Information Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he holds the National Center Chair. He has secondary appointments in the department of Economics, and in the departments of Statistics and Operations, Information and Decisions in the Wharton School. He is founder of Penn’s Networked and Social Systems Engineering (NETS) program, and director of Penn’s Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences. Professor Kearns’ research interests include topics in machine learning, algorithmic game theory, social networks, and computational finance. While much of his work is mathematical in nature, he also often participates in empirical and experimental projects, including applications of machine learning to problems in algorithmic trading and quantitative finance, and human-subject experiments on strategic and economic interaction in social networks.

Professor Kearns has worked and consulted extensively in the technology and finance industries, serving as advisor to a number of startups. In the past he has served as a member of the Advanced Technology Advisory Council of PJM Interconnection, the Scientific Advisory Board of Opera Solutions, and the Technical Advisory Board of Microsoft Research Cambridge.

A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Professor Kearns pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley in math and computer science, graduating in 1985. He received a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard University in 1989.

sorelle friedlerSorelle Friedler, Ph.D.

Sorelle Friedler is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Haverford College and an Affiliate at the Data & Society Research Institute. Her research interests include the design and analysis of algorithms, computational geometry, data mining and machine learning, and the application of such algorithms to interdisciplinary data.

Sorelle is the Program Committee Co-chair for the new Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT*) and is one of the organizers of the Workshop on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning (FAT/ML). She has received a Fellowship and recent NSF grant for her work on preventing discrimination in machine learning. Her work on this topic has been featured in IEEE Spectrum, Gizmodo, and NBC News and she has been interviewed about algorithmic fairness by the Guardian, Bloomberg, and NPR.

Sorelle is the recipient, along with chemistry professors Josh Schrier and Alex Norquist, of two NSF Grants to apply data mining techniques to materials chemistry data to speed up materials discovery. Their paper on this work was featured on the cover of Nature and was covered by The Wall Street Journal and Scientific American.

Before Haverford, Sorelle was a software engineer at Alphabet (formerly Google), where she worked in the X lab and in search infrastructure. She received a Ph.D. in computer science in 2010 and an M.S. in computer science in 2007, both from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a 2004 graduate of Swarthmore College.

mattesBilita Mattes, Ed.D.

Bilita Mattes is the Executive Director (and founding member) of the STEM-UP Network, a social enterprise powered by Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. STEM-UP is a community that supports women in STEM to persist, thrive, and advance. She also serves as the Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Harrisburg University. She has 25 years of experience with leadership roles in higher education, including responsibilities such as program development, faculty development, and academic outreach and strategic partnerships.