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Distinguished Lecture Series in Information Technology & Society

Alfred Spector Alfred Spector

Chief Technology Officer, Two Sigma
“Opportunities and Perils of Data Science: A Roadmap”
Feb. 25, 2020 • UCI's Donald Bren Hall 6011
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Abstract: Data-driven approaches have led to powerful prediction, optimization and automation techniques. Powered by large-scale, networked computer systems and machine learning algorithms, these have been very impactful to-date and hold great promise in many disciplines, even in the humanities and social sciences. However, no new technology arrives without complications, and we have recently seen the press and various political circles illustrating real, potential, and fictional implications of Big Data.

This presentation aims to balance the opportunities provided by Big Data and its associated artificial intelligence techniques with a discussion of the various challenges that have ensued. I review eleven types of challenges, including those which are technical (resilience and complexity), societal (difficulties in setting objective functions or understanding causation), and humanist (issues relating to free will or privacy). I provide example problems and suggest ways to address some of the unanticipated consequences of Big Data.

Bio: Dr. Alfred Spector is Chief Technology Officer at Two Sigma, a firm dedicated to using information to undertake many forms of economic optimization. His career has led him from innovation in large scale, networked computing systems (as a professor at CMU and founder of his company, Transarc) to broad research leadership: five years leading IBM Software Research and eight years leading Google Research. Recently, Spector has lectured widely on the growing importance of computer science across all disciplines (CS+X) and on the Societal Implications of Data Science. He  received an AB in Applied Mathematics from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford, where he was a Hertz Fellow. He is a Fellow of the ACM and IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Spector won the 2001 IEEE Kanai Award for Distributed Computing, was co-awarded the 2016 ACM Software Systems Award, and was a 2018-19 Phi Beta Kappa Scholar.



Picture of Al Roth

Al Roth

Nobel Laureate
Professor of Economics, Stanford University
“Who Gets What? The New Economics of Matching and Market Design”
June 7, 2019 • UCI’s Calit2 Auditorium
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Abstract: Market design is an ancient human activity but a relatively new part of economics. It seeks to understand how the design of markets and marketplaces influences their performance, to use this growing understanding to fix markets when they’re broken, and to help to establish markets where they are missing.

Many markets are matching markets, in which you can’t just choose what you want, even if you can afford it:you also have to be chosen. In these markets, prices don’t do all the work. For example, UCI doesn’t choose its new students by raising the tuition until just enough applications remain to fill the entering class; instead they set the price low enough so that lots of people apply, and then they choose from a big pool. (And UCI can’t just choose its students; it has to woo them in competition with other schools...) Other examples of matching markets are labor markets (workers can’t just choose where to work, nor can employers just choose who will work for them), school choice, and kidney exchange. I’ll illustrate with examples from these.

Bio: Alvin Roth is the Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University, and the GeorgeGund Professor Emeritus of Economics and Business Administration at Harvard. He shared the 2012 Nobel memorial prize in Economics. His research interests are in game theory, experimental economics, and market design. He directed the redesign of the National Resident Matching Program, through which approximately twenty-five thousand doctors a year find their first employment as residents at American hospitals. He has also helped in the reorganization of the market for more senior physicians, as they pursue subspecialty training, and in other labor markets. He helped design the high school matching system used in New York City to match approximately eighty thousand students to high schools each year. He also helped redesign the matching system used in Boston Public Schools, for students of all ages. More recently, he has helped design school choice systems in several other large American cities. He is one of the organizers and designers of kidney exchange in the United States, which helps incompatible patient-donor pairs find life-saving compatible kidneys for transplantation.


Picture of Alex 'Sandy' Pentland

Alex "Sandy" Pentland

Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
Toshiba Professor
Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program Director
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"The Human Strategy"
Nov. 15, 2018 • UCI’s Donald Bren Hall 6011
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Abstract: How can we live in a world of AI, big data, social media echo chambers and cyberattacks? How can we create a cyberculture with a human feel, but yet is competitive with cultures where the machines run everything? The core of current AI is the idea of a credit assignment function, reinforcing connections between “neurons” that are helping. So, what would happen if the neurons were people? People have lots of capabilities; they know lots of things about the world; they can perceive things in a human way. What would happen if you had a network of people where you could reinforce connections between people that were helping and discourage the connections that weren’t? What concrete steps do we have to take in order to transform our current world into one that naturally becomes smarter and smarter, which can absorb AI without changing its human flavor, and which is robust to attacks of all sorts?

Bio: MIT Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland previously helped create and direct the MIT Media Lab, and is one of the most-cited computational scientists in the world. He is a founding member of advisory boards for Google, AT&T, Nissan, and the UN Secretary General, a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded more than a dozen companies. His most recent books are Honest Signals (MIT) and Social Physics (Penguin).

Picture of Jim Kurose

Jim Kurose

Assistant Director National Science Foundation
Directorate of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE)
"An Expanding and Expansive View of Computing"
March 16, 2018 • UCI’s Donald Bren Hall 6011
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Abstract: Advances in computer and information science and engineering are providing unprecedented opportunities for research and education. My talk will begin with an overview of CISE activities and programs at the National Science Foundation and include a discussion of current trends that are shaping the future of our discipline. I will also discuss the opportunities as well as the challenges that lay ahead for our community and for CISE. Bio: Dr. Jim Kurose is the Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). He leads the CISE Directorate, with an annual budget of more than $900 million, in its mission to uphold the nation’s leadership in scientific discovery and engineering innovation through its support of fundamental research in computer and information science and engineering, state-of-the-art cyberinfrastructure, and education and workforce development.

Bio: Dr. Kurose is on leave from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is a Distinguished Professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences. He has been a Visiting Scientist at IBM Research; INRIA; Institut EURECOM; the University of Paris; the Laboratory for Information, Network and Communication Sciences; and Technicolor Research Labs.

His research interests include network protocols and architecture, network measurement, sensor networks, multimedia communication, and modeling and performance evaluation. Dr. Kurose has served on many national and international advisory boards and panels and has received numerous awards for his research and teaching. With Keith Ross, he is the co-author of the textbook, Computer Networking, a top down approach (6th edition) published by Addison-Wesley/Pearson.

Dr. Kurose received his Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics from Wesleyan University. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).


Pamela SamuelsonPamela Samuelson

Distinguished Professor of Law & Information, UC Berkeley 
“What’s At Stake in the Oracle v. Google Software Copyright Case?”
Oct. 19, 2017 • UCI’s Donald Bren Hall 6011 
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Abstract: Freedom to reimplement application program interfaces (APIs) in independently written software is the key issue at stake in the Oracle v. Google case. Oracle has claimed that the Java API is protectable by copyright law and that Google’s use of parts of the Java API without a license is copyright infringement. Google initially won its challenge to the copyrightability of the Java API on the ground that it was an unprotectable functional system, but this ruling was reversed by an appellate court in 2014. Because Google also raised a fair use defense, the appellate court sent the case back for retrial on the fair use issue. Last May the Oracle v Google fair use issue was tried to a jury, which ruled in Google’s favor. Oracle has appealed this verdict and claims that as a matter of law, it is entitled to a judgment in its favor that Google’s use was unfair. The case has attracted numerous amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs which take strongly conflicting views about fair use and whether the law should allow programmers the freedom to reimplement APIs.

Bio: Pamela Samuelson is the Richard M. Sherman ’74 Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at the University of California at Berkeley and a Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. She has written and spoken extensively about the challenges that new information technologies pose for traditional legal regimes, especially for intellectual property law. She is co-founder and president of Authors Alliance. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a Contributing Editor of Communications of the ACM, a past Fellow of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and an Honorary Professor of the University of Amsterdam. She is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She joined the Berkeley faculty in 1996 after serving as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. She has visited at Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, and NYU Law Schools.