Dr. Latanya Sweeney: How Technology Will Dictate Our Civic Future

Friday, November 5, 2021
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PDT

Dr. Latanya Sweeney

This talk is part of the FIAT Justice Lecture Series coordinated by the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group (AFOG), Cal NERDS, and the D-Lab and sponsored by the Public Interest Technologies University Network (PIT-UN).

Data-driven algorithms and technology designers are the new policymakers. No one elected them, and most people do not know their names, but the decisions they make dictate the code by which we conduct our daily lives and govern our country. Challenges to the privacy and security of our personal data were part of the first wave of this change; as technology progresses, every demographic value and every law has come up for grabs and will likely be redefined by what technology does or does not enable.

How will it all fit together or fall apart? This talk surveys unforeseen consequences and brainstorms on a way forward with new innovative technologies designed in the public interest. Examples include contact tracing and the election.

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Dr. Latanya Sweeney is professor of the practice of government and technology at the Harvard Kennedy School and in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, editor-in-chief of Technology Science, director and founder of the Data Privacy Lab, former chief technology officer at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and distinguished career professor of computer science, technology and policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Dr. Sweeney has three patents and more than 100 academic publications and her work is explicitly cited in two U.S. regulations, including the U.S. federal medical privacy regulation (known as HIPAA); she pioneered the field known as data privacy and launched the emerging area known as algorithmic fairness.

She is a recipient of the prestigious Louis D. Brandeis Privacy Award, the American Psychiatric Association’s Privacy Advocacy Award, an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, and has testified before government bodies worldwide. She earned her Ph.D. in computer science from MIT in 2001, being the first black woman to do so, and her undergraduate degree in computer science from Harvard University. Dr. Sweeney creates and uses technology to assess and solve societal, political, and governance problems, and teaches others how to do the same. More information is available at her website.

Dr. Latanya Sweeney
Dr. Latanya Sweeney


If you have questions about this event, please contact Jeremy Johnson.

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Jeremy Johnson
Postdoctoral Scholar

Last updated:

October 29, 2021