CTSP Fellows Retreat 2020

In February, we held our first ever CTSP Retreat gathering 40+ new and former CTSP fellows, board members, and past and present co-directors throughout the all day event. The day long event featured several opportunities for new fellows to get to know each other’s projects, talk to alums about their career paths, and learn about past CTSP projects.

We are so grateful  to all the current fellows and alums who joined and participated in these critical discussions about their projects and how CTSP helped shape their research agenda, careers, and trajectories.

a group of people stand in front of a brick building

Thematic Breakout Groups

To kick off the day, new fellows gathered in thematic groups related to their CTSP project to meet the other fellows in their cohort and share their plans for the year.

  • Infrastructures
  • Power, Algorithms & Online Communities
  • Privacy & AI
  • Cybersecurity Tools & Actors

CTSP Alums Panel

Four alums reflected on their CTSP projects, sharing strategies for overcoming common challenges like gaining access to industry or government actors, and telling us how their projects led into other work.

four women seated in a row

Madelena Ng, Amy Turner, Naniette Coleman, and Mehtab Khan

Naniette Coleman, PhD Candidate in Sociology, I Regret To Inform You That Your Private Information Has Been Compromised (2017)

Mehtab Khan, JSD Candidate 2020, Affect & Facial Recognition in Hiring (2019)

Madelena Ng, DrPH Candidate in Public Health, The state of smartphone-based observational studies: ethical and practical considerations in informed consent and health data disclosure (2019)

Amy Turner, MIMS 2020, Coordinated Entry System Research and Development for a Continuum of Care in Northern California (2019)

Public Interest Technology Careers

Finally, fellows chatted with CTSP and MIMS alums, and some CTSP board members about how to bring the mission of CTSP into their work after graduation. These groups were broadly organized around the following themes:

  • Critical Design & Design Research
  • Tech Worker Organizing & Ethics
  • Government & Non-profit
  • User Experience
  • Inference, Experiments, & Data Driven Research

The Powerful and the Powerless: Reflections from FAccT 2020

By Zoe Kahn, CTSP Fellow 2019

Images of people soaring through space wearing astronaut helmets adorn the walls of a narrow hallway leading from the street-level entrance to the hotel lobby elevator bank. A life-sized model of an astronaut stands off to the side of the hotel registration desk. It’s safe to say… the conference hotel has an outer space theme. 

The words “What is fairness?” repeat on a large circular digital display at the center of the hotel lobby. I can’t decide if the display belongs in a newsroom, stock trade room, or train station. Perhaps art? Perhaps commentary? 

The word in question changes each day. What is Fairness? What is Accountability? What is Transparency? What questions are we missing? 

Image of digital sign reading "what is fairness?"

It is here—in Barcelona, Spain—that ~600 people gather for the ACM Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT) conference to discuss efforts to design, develop, deploy, and evaluate machine learning models in ways that are more fair, accountable, and transparent. 

Despite the conference’s roots in computer science, there were several papers, tutorials, and CRAFT sessions that challenged the community to think beyond technical fixes to broader socio-technical contexts rife with power and complex social dynamics.

Let me begin with a discussion of power. The ACLU of Washington and the Media Mobilizing Project put on a terrific CRAFT session titled, Creating Community-Based Tech Policy: Case Studies, Lessons Learned, and What Technologist and Communities Can Do Together. The two-part session first documented the ACLU of Washington’s efforts, in partnership with academics primarily from the University of Washington (Katell et al., 2020), to include marginalized and vulnerable communities in the development of tech policy surrounding the acquisition and use of surveillance technologies in the City of Seattle. The Media Mobilizing Project then presented their work investigating the use of risk assessment tools in the criminal justice system across the country. And, in particular, their efforts with community groups to combat the use of criminal justice risk assessment tools in Philadelphia. Taken together, the session provided models for meaningfully engaging marginalized and vulnerable populations in algorithmic accountability, forming the foundation for workshop participants to reflect upon their own power.


“Loved learning the latest” – A Great Night Celebrating CTSP at Google PAIR

CTSP Co-Directors Elizabeth Resor and Anne Jonas present in front of a slide that says "Center for Technology, Society & Policy" with a few images from CTSP projects

CTSP Co-Directors Elizabeth Resor and Anne Jonas offer introductory remarks

On October 22nd CTSP fellows, alums, past and current Co-Directors, faculty advisors and many members of the Bay Area technology community gathered at Google SF for an evening of talks, posters, and lots of mingling, hosted by Google’s PAIR team. Despite BART delays reminding us the ripple effects of complicated infrastructural breakdowns, we had a magical evening guided by Michelle Carney, CTSP alum and founder of MLUX, in exploring the work CTSP has done, our vision for what’s next, and the broader connections around society, policy, and technology.

4 people standing together and smiling

CTSP Faculty Advisory Board member Mike Rivera, CTSP Fellow Ayo Animashaun, Faculty Advisory Board member Alex Hughes, and Fellow Mahmoud Hamsho at the reception

We reflected on CTSP’s origins and progress over the last 5 years, exploring how Galen Panger and Nicholas Doty had prescient insight in developing a center that took seriously the politics of sociotechnical systems and recognized the cutting-edge work being done in the I School community and beyond. It has been so energizing to see CTSP fellows go on to become leading faculty, community advocates, policy-makers, and trusted advisors for the tech industry. As Jess Holbrook of PAIR reminded us, we must be wary of the powerful trying to claim expertise in developing solutions and alternatives to the very problems they have enabled, and instead look to those who have long been working collaboratively and carefully on the ground (and in the cloud) for their wisdom and best practices. We are so proud to count CTSP fellows among these experts.

Galen Panger talks with two peopel with their backs to the camera in front of a poster

CTSP Co-Founder Galen Panger networks at the poster reception

At this event, we got to hear lightning talks from four CTSP project teams and to learn more about another ten projects in posters displayed around the event space. Fellows were thrilled to make connections across cohort years and with those working on a variety of projects inside academia and out. It was especially inspiring to see how some projects have grown and continued over the years. Check out the fantastic posters above!

Franchesca Spektor presents on her team's project in front of audience

CTSP Fellow Franchesca Spektor presents on her team’s project


Thank you to everyone who attended and/or made a poster!


Un-Pitch Day success & project opportunities

Our Social Impact Un-Pitch Day event back in October was a great success — held in conjunction with the Information Management Student Association at the School of Information, organizational attendees received help scoping potential technology projects, while scores of Berkeley students offered advice with project design and also learned more about opportunities both to help the attending organizations and CTSP funding.

A key outcome of the event was a list of potential projects developed by 10 organizations, from social service non-profits such as Berkeley Food Pantry and, to technology advocacy groups such as the ACLU of Northern California and the Center for Democracy and Technology (just to name a few!).

We are providing a list of the projects (with contact information) with the goal both of generating interest in these groups’ work as well as providing potential project ideas and matches for CTSP applicants. Please note that we cannot guarantee funding for these projects should you choose to “adopt” a project and work with one of these organizations. Even if a project match doesn’t result in a CTSP fellowship, we hope we can match technologists with these organizations to help promote tech policy for the public interest regardless.

Please check out the list and consider contacting one of these organizations ASAP if their project fits your interests or skill sets! As a reminder, the deadline to apply to CTSP for this funding cycle is November 28, 2016.

Introducing CTSP’s Inaugural Collaborative Projects & Fellows

By Galen PangerNick Doty, CTSP Co-Directors  |  Permalink

We are extremely pleased to announce the selection of 11 collaborative projects and to welcome 28 fellows to the Center for our inaugural year. We received a total of 50 proposals from over 125 collaborators and were impressed by the diversity of ideas and teams, and the potential they hold to make a difference.

The 11 projects we selected, however, stood out for their focus and ambition, for their potential to advance the state of affairs in our four areas, and for their ability to speak to larger, not solely academic, audiences. From investigating how technology can amplify existing social biases to understanding users’ views of algorithmic decision-making, these projects will tackle important issues with smart, practical approaches.


Introducing Citizen Technologist, the Blog

By Nick Doty & Galen Panger, CTSP Co-Directors  |  Permalink

What is a Citizen Technologist?

Increasingly, we must accept that technology is not a neutral thing, not developed apart from cultural or political ideas and not deployed in a vacuum. Technology has effects—obvious and subtle, planned and unforeseen—on our daily routines, our well-being, our communities, our jobs, our love lives and our political activities. A citizen technologist is a person who works with the intersecting effects of technical architecture, social norms, and public policy.READ MORE

Announcing the Center for Technology, Society & Policy

Cross-posted from Berkeley News  |  Permalink

The UC Berkeley School of Information is launching the Center for Technology, Society and Policy, established with seed funding from Google, to focus on engineering ethics, technology and well-being, standards and governance, and digital citizenship.

The multidisciplinary center will solicit proposals in the four areas of concentration annually, beginning this fall, for projects of around six months in length with outcomes including, but not limited to, design or engineering solutions, academic publications, regulatory proposals and public events.READ MORE