Digital Life Seminar Archive

Lee McGuigan

Cornell Tech | Digital Life Initiative

Design Choice: Mechanism Design’s Digital Drift

Mechanism design is a form of optimization developed in economic theory. It casts economists as institutional engineers, choosing an outcome and then arranging a set of market rules and conditions to achieve it. In this paper, Lee McGuigan, Jake Goldenfein, and Salome Viljoen argue that mechanism design, applied in algorithmic environments, has become a tool for producing information domination, distributing social costs in ways that benefit designers, and controlling and coordinating participants in multi-sided platforms.

Serge Egelman

International Computer Science Institute | University of California, Berkeley

Taking Responsibility for Someone Else's Code: Studying the Privacy Behaviors of Mobile Apps at Scale

Modern software development has embraced the concept of "code reuse," which is the practice of relying on third-party code to avoid "reinventing the wheel" (and rightly so). While this practice saves developers time and effort, it also creates liabilities: the resulting app may behave in ways that the app developer does not anticipate. This can cause very serious issues for privacy compliance: while an app developer did not write all of the code in their app, they are nonetheless responsible for it. In this talk, I will present research that my group has conducted to automatically examine the privacy behaviors of mobile apps vis-à-vis their compliance with privacy regulations.

Emma Pierson

Microsoft Research | Jacobs Institute/Cornell Tech (2021)

Modeling COVID with mobility data
 to understand inequality and guide reopening

In this paper, we develop a model of COVID spread that uses dynamic mobility networks, derived from US cell phone data, to capture the hourly movements of millions of people from local neighborhoods (census block groups, or CBGs) to points of interest (POIs) such as restaurants, grocery stores, or religious establishments.

Cory Doctorow

Author, Activist, Journalist and Blogger

Oligarchy and Technology

Software has eaten the world and crapped out a dystopia: a place where Abbot Labs uses copyright claims to stop people with diabetes from taking control over their insulin dispensing and where BMW is providing seat-heaters as an-over-the-air upgrade that you have to pay for by the month. Companies have tried this stuff since the year dot, but Thomas Edison couldn't send a patent enforcer to your house to make sure you honored the license agreement on your cylinder by only playing it on an Edison phonograph. Today, digital systems offer perfect enforcement for the pettiest, greediest grifts imaginable.

Joseph Turow

Annenberg School for Communication | University of Pennsylvania

Seductive Surveillance and Social Change: The Rise of the Voice Intelligence Industry

Drawing from my forthcoming book The Voice Catchers (Yale U Press, early 2021), I pose two key questions about this new development in the United States: How has the voice intelligence industry been able to gain the kind of social traction that has tens of millions of people giving their up voiceprints to so-called “intelligent assistants”? And in the face of this widespread shift to voice bio-profiling, what social policies should concerned citizens advocate to slow the process and implement regulations regarding this new form of surveillance?

Yaël Eisenstat & Carrie Goldberg

Digital Life Initiative | C.A. Goldberg, PLLC

"With Great Power Comes... No Responsibility?"

Who bears responsibility for the real-world consequences of technology? This question has been unduly complicated for decades by the 1996 legislation that provides immunity from liability to platforms that host third-party content: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

MC Forelle

Cornell Tech

When the Software Rubber Hits the Mechanical Road: Regulating the Repair and Modification of the Modern Car

What happens when two different technologies, historically governed by different regulatory regimes, are combined into a single, hybrid, consumer device?

Omid Poursaeed

Cornell Tech

Deepfakes and Adversarial Examples: Fooling Humans and Machines

In this talk, Omid Pouraseed will discuss recent methods for adversarial data manipulation, and mention possible defense strategies against them. Although manipulations of visual and auditory media are as old as media themselves, the recent advent of deepfakes has marked a turning point in the creation of fake content.

Madelyn R. Sanfilippo & Yan Shvartzshnaider

Princeton University | New York University

Privacy/Disaster: When Information Flows Are Taken Out of Context

Privacy is contextual. Everyday, we manage different contexts and adjust our privacy expectations accordingly. The theory of Contextual Integrity offers a way to capture contextual norms and a heuristic to analyze privacy. This analysis is especially helpful to detect situations in which the system designers take advantage of well-established, contextual privacy expectations, to encourage user disclosures without adhering to governing norms. For example, imagine an app that is marked to you as a patient/doctor communication tool in a medical context, yet it is actually an insurance company trying to get more information on you.

Diana Freed

Cornell Tech

Improving the Privacy and Safety for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Diana will present her research on technology-mediated abuse in IPV, threat models, and recent work from Cornell Tech's Intimate Partner Violence clinic.

Frank Pasquale

University of Maryland

Machines Judging Humans: The Promise and Perils of Formalizing Evaluative Criteria

Over the past decade, algorithmic accountability has become an important concern for social scientists, computer scientists, journalists, and lawyers.

Chris Sagers

Cleveland State University

United States v Apple: Competition in America

United States v. Apple: Competition in America examines the misunderstandings and exaggerations that firms have raised throughout antitrust history to justify collusion and monopoly.

Hongyi Wen

Cornell Tech

Recommender Systems with Users in the Loop

Recommender systems have come to serve as the “homepage” for users to access informational items such videos, music, books, etc.

Zachary Chase Lipton

Carnegie Mellon University

Fairness & Interpretability in Machine Learning and the Dangers of Solutionism

Supervised learning algorithms are increasingly operationalized in real-world decision-making systems. Unfortunately, the nature and desiderata of real-world tasks rarely fit neatly into the supervised learning contract.

Kate Klonick

St. John's University Law School

Facebook's Oversight Board

For a decade and a half, Facebook has dominated the landscape of digital social networks and has evolved to become one of the most powerful arbiters of online speech.

Eugene Bagdasaryan

Cornell Tech

Evaluating Privacy Preserving Techniques in Machine Learning

Modern applications frequently require access to sensitive data, such as facial images, typing history, or health records, thereby increasing the need for expressive privacy protection.

Tal Zarsky

University of Haifa

When a Small Change Makes a Big Difference

A growing body of scholarship is addressing the risks of opaque analyses as well as the fear of hidden biases and discrimination that may come along with automated decision-making.

Michael Sobolev

Cornell Tech

Behavioral Science in the Digital Economy

Over the last decade, behavioral science made significant progress and impact in academic research as well as impacted policy in commercial organizations and governments. At the same time, the rise of digital technologies and the digital economy provides exciting opportunities and presents challenges for the next decade of behavioral science. In this talk, Sobolev will explore novel avenues for behavioral science research in the digital economy.

Kashmir Hill

The New York Times

Losing Face: The Privacy Challenges as Facial Recognition Goes Mainstream

Hill will discuss the ethics of building facial recognition databases that use the faces of people who have not consented to taking part.

Yiqing Hua

Cornell Tech

Understanding Adversarial Interactions Against Politicians on Social Media

J Nathan Matias

Cornell University

Advancing Flourishing Digital Societies through Citizen Science

Lee McGuigan

Cornell Tech

Dreams and Designs to Optimize Advertising

James Grimmelmann

Cornell Tech

Spyware vs Spyware

Ben Fish

Microsoft Research

Relational Equality: Modeling Unfairness in Hiring via Social Standing

Niva Elkin-Koren

University of Haifa

Contesting Algorithms

Sorelle Friedler

Haverford College

Fairness in Networks: Understanding Disadvantage and Information Access

Salome Viljoen & Ben Green

Cornell Tech | Harvard University

Algorithmic Realism: Expanding the Boundaries of Algorithmic Thought

Kiel Brennan-Marquez, Karen Levy, & Daniel Susser

UConn School of Law | Cornell University | Pennsylvania State University

Strange Loops: Apparent vs Actual Involvement in Automated Decision-Making

Ido Sivan-Sevilla

Cornell Tech

Complementaries and Contradictions: National Security and Privacy Risks in US Federal Policy, 1968-2018

Kathleen R McKeown

Columbia University

Where Natural Language Processing Meets Societal Needs

Alondra Nelson

SSRC, Institute for Advanced Study

"I am Large, I Contain Multitudes"

Jake Goldenfein

Cornell Tech

Private Companies and Scholarly Infrastructure: The Question of Google Scholar

Ifeoma Ajunwa

Cornell University

The Paradox of Automation as Anti-Bias Intervention

Doug Rushkoff

CUNY Queens

Team Human: Optimizing Technology for Human Beings (Instead of the Other Way Around)

Sunny Consolvo


Studies of Privacy-, Security-, and Abuse-Related Beliefs and Practices

Maggie Jack

Cornell Tech

Localization of Transnational Tech Platforms and Liminal Privacy Practices in Cambodia

Isabelle Zaugg

Columbia University

Precarity and Hope for Digitally-Disadvantaged Languages (And Their Scripts)

Jessica Vitak

University of Maryland

Privacy, Security, and Ethical Challenges in the Era of Big Data

Angela Zhou

Cornell Tech

Towards an Ecology of Care for Data-Driven Decision Making

Moran Yemini

Yale University

The New Irony of Free Speech

Lauren van Haaften-Schick

Cornell University

"The Artist's Contract" (1971) to Smart Contracts: Remedies for Inequity in the Art Market in Historical Perspective

David Pozen

Columbia Law School

Loyal to Whom? A Skeptical View of Information Fiduciaries

Brad Smith


Facial Recognition: Coming to a Street Corner Near You

Luke Stark

Microsoft Research

Darwin's Animoji: Histories of Emotion, Animation, and Racism in Everyday Facial Recognition

Elizabeth O'Neill

Cornell Tech

The Ethics of Artificial Ethics Advisors

Finn Brunton

NYU Steinhardt

Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Utopians, Anarchists, and Technologists Who Built Cryptocurrency

Fabian Okeke

Cornell Tech

Privacy and Equity in Developing Countries

Laura Forlano

Cornell Tech

Techno-Optimistic Smart City Imaginaries: A Patchwork of Four Urban Futures

Timnit Gebru

Google AI

Understanding the Limitations of AI: When Algorithms Fail

Nirvan Tyagi

Cornell Tech

Survey of Security and Privacy Concerns in Machine Learning

Joseph Reagle

Northeastern University

The Digital Complicity of Facebook's Growth Hackers & Chip-Implanting Biohackers

David Robinson

Upturn, Cornell University

Kidney Allocation Policy as Algorithmic Governance

Francesca Rossi

IBM AI Ethics Global Leader

Ethically Bounded AI

Eran Toch

Cornell Tech

Smart Cities/Digital Neighborhoods: Privacy, Equality, and Adoption of Urban Technologies

Role: Owner
Get Ready For Business
2/5 Completed


Ascend by Wix

Customer Management

Marketing & SEO




Content Manager
Sync Sandbox to Live

Manage Fields
The idea of the Smart City is becoming central to the adoption of technologies that enhance and regulate urban spaces. At the same time, smart cities bring about new challenges, as diverse populations interact with an array of new technologies, most of them are based on large-scale data collection and with increasing effects on residents lives.

Glen Weyl

Microsoft Research

Liberal Radicalism for the Digital Age

The present architecture of the digital economy is leading to unprecedented concentrations of economic and political power.

Jake Goldenfein

Cornell Tech

The Profiling Potential of Computer Vision

Over the past decade, researchers have been investigating new technologies for categorizing people based on physical attributes alone.

Elana Zeide

Seton Hall Law School

How Ed Tech Shapes Pedagogy & Policy (& Vice Versa)

David Bernet

Film Screening: Democracy

This documentary unveils the political intrigue in the struggle for new data protection legislation in the EU.

Rishab Nithyanand

Data & Society

Anonymity & Ad Tracking: Insights from Measurement Studies

Kadija Ferryman

Data & Society

Precision Medicine & Fairness

Yafit Lev-Aretz

New York University

Corporate Data & Public Ends

Beth Simone Noveck


CrowdLaw: Experiments in Participatory Urban Lawmaking

Natasha Dow Schull

NYU Steinhardt

Wearable Technology as Self Regulation

Solon Barocas

Cornell University

Allocative Versus Representational Harms in Machine Learning

Nicki Dell, Tom Ristenpart, & Karen Levy

Cornell Tech | Cornell University

Digital Safety and Security for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

Trebor Scholz

The New School

This is What a Democratic Platform Economy Loosk Like

Matt Jones & Chris Wiggins

Columbia University | New York Times

Data Literacy & Ethics in the Lab

Amanda Levendowski

NYU School of Law

Artificial Intelligence, Bias & Copyright Complications



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