Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt

At NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology Launch, Steinhardt Faculty Members Talk Ethics and Accessibility

Posted

In February, four NYU Steinhardt faculty members shared their current research at the launch of the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology. The Alliance, an initiative from NYU’s Office of the Provost, connects faculty members across NYU who collaborate on projects related to public interest technology.

The half-day conference event was an opportunity for NYU faculty members to share their latest public interest technology research (PIT). Topics discussed included technology law, artificial intelligence, social science, data science, robotics, investigative journalism, and the role of technology in human rights. NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology also aims to expand upon existing PIT work at the university by supporting students and graduates, assessing and evaluating their training and career trajectories, supporting new interdisciplinary PIT research, and developing pipelines for diverse students doing PIT work.

Anne Washington speaking to audience

Anne Washington, assistant professor of data policy at NYU Steinhardt, gave a keynote address.

Anne Washington, assistant professor of data policy, gave the audience a crash course in data ethics in a presentation titled, Whose Side Is Credible? The Case for Public Interest Technology

Washington, who has testified before the United States Congress’ House Financial Services Committee last fall, noted that there has been a sea-change in how societies develop ethical standards.

“For centuries human beings were assumed to be driving ethics; today computer systems act on behalf of humans and ethical questions arise when actions violate the public trust,” she said.

Washington also described the collaborative work her students have been engaged in since they completed her Ethics of Data Science course. In the working group they formed last summer, Applied Statistics students, Molly Nystrom and Shannon Kay, applied their classroom learning as Washington’s research assistants. The first paper from this collaboration is Whose Side are Ethics Codes On? Power, Responsibility and the Social Good by Washington and Rachel Kuo, lead researcher, and MCC doctoral candidate.

For centuries human beings were assumed to be driving ethics; today computer systems act on behalf of humans and ethical questions arise when actions violate the public trust."

Anne Washington, Assistant Professor of Data Policy
Mara Mills Powerpoint

Mara Mills described a collaboration with the New York Public Library to make materials accessible for people with disabilities.

Associate Professors Mara Mills (MCC) and Amy Hurst (OT) gave a joint presentation titled, presented “Technology and Dis/Ability.”. 

Mills, whose scholarship focuses on the intersection of disability studies and media studies, gave an overview of the Report to the Provost from the Disabilities, Inclusion and Accessibility Working GroupFor the past decade, she has been a co-leader of this working group, whose recommendations led to the creation of the NYU Center for Disability Studies. 

Hurst, who also serves as director of NYU’s Ability Project, described the NYU’s Ability Project recently grant which supports a partnership with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum to develop rich, sensory-based interpretive experiences that are accessible to visitors with disabilities. 

The two shared an overview of their current projects that are focused on enhancing accessibility for NYU students and people with want to engage more fully with New York City’s cultural life. 

Charlton McIlwain, Black Software (book)

Charlton McIlwain, NYU's Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement and Development, leads NYU's Alliance for Public Interest Technology initiative. His most recent book is Black Software: The Internet and Social Justice (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Charlton McIlwain, co-chair of the Alliance, said that the goal of the initiative is to stimulate socially-conscious research within the NYU community.

“The Alliance is pleased to support faculty and students who are committed to leading our society in the critical, responsible, and ethical creation, use, and governance of technology in society," McIlwain said. 

Anne Washington

Assistant Professor of Data Policy

anne.washington@nyu.edu

Mara Mills

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

mmills@nyu.edu

Amy Hurst

Associate Professor, Director of Ability Project

amyhurst@nyu.edu

Charlton McIlwain

Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement and Development; Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

cdm1@nyu.edu