July 2017

AINow Symposium Recap: Addressing the Social Implications of AI

As artificial intelligence gains exposure in media and public discourse, so too does the demand for spaces focused on studying its systems and their ramifications. Last weekend, one such space was brought to the ground through AINow, a research initiative (and soon-to-be NY-based research center!) Co-Founded by Kate Crawford and Meredith Whittaker and dedicated to addressing the social implications of machine learning and artificial intelligence. This year, the symposium was hosted at the an equally forward-thinking MIT Media Lab. Attendance alone wasn’t sufficient, each guest came with the instruction to think about the proposed prompt: “What issue does this community most need to address within the next 12 months”?

Discussion was curated through the organization of an Experts Workshop, an “invite-only, interdisciplinary convening of top practitioners and researchers on the near-term social and economic implications of artificial intelligence.” Attendees presented brief flash talks around four previously-defined focus areas: Bias and inclusion, labor and automation, rights and liberties, and ethics and governance. Quickly, conversation shifted towards the need to recognize the uneven distribution of power when designing AI systems and design for full-spectrum community inclusion. Discrepancies within standardization were discussed as well, including the need to define malpractice and calls to better understand the processes involved in measuring, collecting, and sampling data. Researchers examined the notions of biased training data, disparity in accuracy rates, false reinforcement bias, cumulative disadvantage of background predictions, and need to create mechanisms that correct for historical injustice. Actionable suggestions for reshaping governance and countering economic displacement were debated.

A group discussion followed, organized to stimulate catalyzing questions and comments around AI’s interactivity with research, industry, and activism. Some of the resulting statements are as follows:

  • What does it look like to build an algorithmically-mediated public space?
  • How do we democratize the AI space?
  • We need to establish more transparency around defined goals & penalty for errors
  • How can we increase social knowledge around AI nationally & trans-nationally?
  • We need to move from power thinking to design thinking, as well as from what is to be done to what is already happening
  • We need to address the community segregation: If we want AI for the world, the world needs to be part of the conversation
  • We need for more discussion around different definitions of bias
  • How is law channeling AI in the US and how do we create important accountability?
  • There’s no silver bullet or perfect fairness — we need to make things more fair and equal. We should be looking at who is least included, not designing for the most included. We need to normalize admissions for self-guilt

In the evening, the space opened up for the general public symposium, which hosted three panels around Bias Traps in AI, Governance Gaps, and Rights and Liberties in an Automated World. A lot of the above topics were discussed at large, each with Q&A from participants.

AI isn’t new (It’s existed since the 50’s), but recent sensationalism around its discussion validates its ever-increasing prominence in public life. Though the AINow community is new and developing, it is strongly backed. Organizations like the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund were recently founded to support the humanities, social sciences, and other disciplines in the development of AI. See here to view the Experts Workshop, here to view the public symposium, or here to subscribe to AINow’s updates.

Girls Who Code Returns to Microsoft New York for their Summer Immersion Program!

Summer 2017’s Girls Who Code Instructors: Abigail Miller, teaching assistant; Arabia Simeon, teaching assistant; Remina Greenfield, lead teacher

Microsoft New York will welcome for the third consecutive summer 20 students to attend the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. We kick off on July 5!

We are very excited to continue to host this program which inspires, educates, and equips young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st-century opportunities.

We have a stimulating lineup for the girls this summer. In addition to learning to code, we will have the opportunity to provide workshops, field trips and speaking engagements to enhance their learning.

Our first field trip will be to the Microsoft Technology Center for a tech demo in the Envisioning Center, followed by a Moderated Career Panel Discussion and a Microsoft YouthSpark presentation.

Another field trip will be to the Microsoft Flagship Store on 5th Avenue where the girls will receive a VIP tour which will include experiencing HoloLens.  That will be most exhilarating.

We will also be visiting LinkedIn where the girls will have an opportunity to be introduced to their team, experience a Tech Talk focused on LinkedIn Overview & the Economic Graph, a tour of the office, a workshop on Design Thinking and wrapping up the experience with a panel discussion with the Women at LinkedIn.

Now, back at the office, we will bring in several speakers, internal and external leaders, during the course of the program. One of the speaking engagements I am truly looking forward to is bringing back last year’s Girls Who Code teacher, Maya McCoy, who taught our Girls Who Code class in 2016 as well as one of the 2015 teaching assistants, Louise Lai. The extra special part here is the both Maya and Louise are both returning this summer of 2017 within Microsoft TEALS as a Regional Program Manager and with our Microsoft team as a Civic Tech Fellow, respectively. Talk about coming full circle.

The graduation ceremony in August is always an exciting time.  The girls will have the opportunity to present their projects that they created over the summer to their family and friends.  

These girls certainly have an exciting summer ahead of them and we are thrilled to be a part of it!

July’s Civic Tech Events

We’re headed right into the heart of summer. Here are some top picks for events this July:

July 6

Labor and Employment Law Issues Related to Social Networking

Employers who use social media will find that they may be violating rules under the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), regulations from the Federal Trade commission, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Health Insurance and Portability Act, and state security requirements, and many other laws.

Disciplining employees for their comments on social media can be a minefield. Not disciplining employees for their comments on social media can be a minefield. What is an employer to do?

Courts and administrative agencies are finally handing down decisions that address these legal concerts. The decisions are specific to social media, including variations by industry. This webinar will cover all of the legal issues and the decisions being made, and how to make sure your policies, actions, are in compliance.

July 10-11

NY Community Technology Skillshare

Join us for this participant-driven, interactive gathering to share knowledge and best practices in the use of technology and creative media in support of social justice efforts.

New York Community Technology Skillshare strives to be a collaborative space for nonprofit staff, social justice organizers, techies, activists, and students to gain new skills, discover new allies, and collectively envision the future of free and open technology to support positive social change. We hope to see you there in July!

NYTimes Cities for Tomorrow

How do the greatest cities succeed? On July 10–11, The New York Times will convene the world’s foremost industry experts, policymakers, developers, creative visionaries, entrepreneurs and others at Cities for Tomorrow, the must-attend event for leaders who are shaping the urban environments of the future.

July 11

Data Visualization for Improved Communication

People understand visual information quicker and more easily than numeric information, yet many professionals who work with large volumes of data routinely present information and analysis using numbers in a tabular format like an Excel spreadsheet. In a recent survey, more than 56%1 of respondents said they want to not only see data presented visually, but they want more types of visualizations to choose from and over 70%1said they want more interactivity with the data. Research shows we more readily understand visuals, and businesses are demanding more and better visualization of data. Visualizations help people spot trends, anomalies, exceptions and outliers. However, we are not naturally good at presenting data visually. This course will provide a grounding in basic data visualization concepts. 

23 Guidelines to Avoid an AI Apocalypse According to Experts (workshop)

JOIN US for this special, interactive workshop and discussion, featuring guest presenter, Dr. Seth Baum, Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, as we explore the intent, meaning, and implications of these AI guidelines, and whether having a set of existing guidelines can really safeguard humanity from AI-catastrophe.

July 2017 NY Tech Meetup and Afterparty – PITCH THE CITY

Join us for NYC’s most famous and longest running monthly tech event! You’ll see a fantastic lineup of New York tech companies presenting live demos of their products, followed by an afterparty where you can network with the community and meet our demoers and sponsors.

For July’s event, NY Tech Meetup will team up with Blank Space and the City of New York to host the final event of the ‘Driverless Future Challenge.’ Teams from around the world submitted proposals to answer a complicated question: How can NYC prepare for autonomous cars? The four finalists in the challenge will pitch NYC Government officials and technologists at the event and the winner will be crowned live in front of the Meetup audience!

Voodoo Manufacturing Happy Hour

Come out for a tour of Voodoo Manufacturing, free food, drinks, and a raffle for two lucky winners to leave with $300 of free Voodoo Manufacturing 3D Printing credits each! RSVP with all of your relevent info to enter the raffle!

July 12

New York City Women in Digital Kick Off

Join the most powerful Women in Digital for our first ever New York City meeting.

Refresh yourself with a break from the madness at work and meet your amazing sisters in arms of Women in Digital. We’re about to start a New York Chapter, and you’ll be there on the ground floor of it all. Find out more and submit nominations for your open New York Board of Advisory positions by clicking here: http://www.womenin.digital.

July 13

Black Women Talk Tech Summer Social

We’re inviting everyone to our first Summer Social Thursday, July 13th, 6:30-9:30pm!

Join investors, technologists, founders & industry vets of color to build new networks and celebrate our first BWTT Tech Trailblazer! Janet Bashen, President of Bashen Corp. will be honored for her achievement as the first black woman to receive a U.S. patent for software technology.

July 14

Save the date for Machine Eatable at Civic Hall!

July 17

IoT NY #45: AgTech’s bright future: Growing food (and data) with IoT

AgTech spans indoor and urban agriculture, precision agriculture, closed-loop systems, and a growing body of IoT-enabled solutions. This month, we’ll hear from a panel of AgTech leaders who will discuss investor trends, prototyping, grower adoption, challenges and opportunities for the industry.

July 19

NYC Open Data Summer Updates

For this month’s Civic Hall Member Showcase, we are excited to present the NYC Open Data Team!

Manufacturing for Startups: Fulfillment & Logistics

We teamed up with some of New York City’s best talent for the Futureworks Incubator Workshop Series.

Futureworks Incubator champions and supports the growth of hardware startups across New York City. Made possible by NYCEDC and spearheaded by SecondMuse and Imagination in Space, the Incubator’s workshop series focuses on the top priorities in a company’s journey. On July 19, we focus on Fulfillment and Logistics.

July 25

Buses, Beers And Bytes: A Happy Hour For Tech And Public Transit In New York

Join us on Tuesday, July 25th for a fun night of drinks, schmoozing and nerding out about New York City’s bus network. Hear from leading voices in the effort to upgrade New York City’s bus network and get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the solutions that can help make buses faster and more reliable.