Center Events

Warren Center Distinguished Lecture: Cynthia Dwork

September 18, 2014 | Wu & Chen Auditorium, Room 101 Levine Hall

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

3:00 pm in Wu & Chen Auditorium, 101 Levine Hall

Title: Fairness, Awareness, and Privacy

Abstract: “Why was my loan application denied?” “Why was I not shown this advertisement?”

This talk will address fairness in classification, where the goal is to prevent discrimination against protected population subgroups in classification systems while simultaneously preserving utility for the party carrying out the classification, for example, the advertiser, bank, or admissions committee. We argue that a classification is fair only when individuals who are similar with respect to the classification task at hand are treated similarly, and this in turn requires understanding of sub-cultures of the population, as well more (not less!) information about the individuals to be classified. Our approach provides a (theoretical) method by which an on-line advertising network can prevent discrimination against protected groups, even when the advertisers are unknown and untrusted.

Having argued that fair classification requires more information, we observe a surprising connection to differential privacy, an approach to privacy-preserving analysis of internet-scale data sets, and show that ideas from that field can lead to solutions to the fair classification problem.

Joint work with Moritz Hardt, Toniann Pitassi, Omer Reingold, and  Richard Zemel (“Fairness Through Awareness”), and Deirdre Mulligan (“It’s Not Privacy and It’s Not Fair”).

Bio: Cynthia Dwork is a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research and is renowned for placing privacy-preserving data analysis on a mathematically rigorous foundation. A cornerstone of this work is differential privacy, a strong privacy guarantee frequently permitting highly accurate data analysis. Dr. Dwork has also made seminal contributions in cryptography and distributed computing, and is a recipient of the Edsger W. Dijkstra Prize, recognizing some of her earliest work establishing the pillars on which every fault-tolerant system has been built for decades. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.