Events Summer 2019

Theoretically Speaking — Algorithms and the Law

Friday, Jun. 7, 2019 6:00 pm PDT

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Peter Bartlett (Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, moderator)

Panelists: Shafi Goldwasser (Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing), Martha Minow (Harvard University), Elliot Schrage (Facebook), and Patricia Williams (Columbia University) 


David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley

This panel will explore the contemporary promises and challenges of computer algorithms from the perspectives of lawyers, ethicists, philosophers, and computer scientists. What is missing from the current technological debates on the fairness and privacy of algorithmic decision making and their impact on the social fabric? What are promising tools of governance and frames of analysis? What do breakthroughs in technology and algorithms offer to law itself?

Peter Bartlett is the Associate Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing and professor in EECS and Statistics at the University of California at Berkeley. His research interests include machine learning and statistical learning theory, and he is the co-author of the book Neural Network Learning: Theoretical Foundations. He has been Institute of Mathematical Statistics Medallion Lecturer, winner of the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, Australian Laureate Fellow, Fellow of the IMS, Fellow of the ACM, and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Shafi Goldwasser is the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, and a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley. She is also the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and a professor of computer science and applied mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Goldwasser received a BS in applied mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University in 1979, and MS and PhD in computer science from UC Berkeley in 1984. Goldwasser was the recipient of ACM Turing Award for 2012. 

Martha Minow has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981, where her courses include civil procedure, constitutional law, family law, international criminal justice, jurisprudence, law and education, nonprofit organizations, and the public law workshop. An expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities, she also writes and teaches about privatization, military justice, and ethnic and religious conflict.

Elliot Schrage has been Vice President at Facebook since 2008, where his responsibilities have included oversight of outreach to governments, policymakers, and global media about the company’s products and services; corporate business; and partnerships. He joined Facebook from Google, where he helped build and scale a similar function. Previously, Elliot was a Bernard L. Schwarz Senior Fellow in business and foreign policy at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Earlier, Elliot served as Senior Vice President of Global Affairs for Gap Inc. and for many years as adjunct professor at Columbia University and Columbia Law School, leading a seminar exploring the intersection of transnational business and international human rights. He started his career as an attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and Paris.

Schrage serves as a presidential appointee as Trustee of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, on the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank Board of Directors, as a member of the Visiting Committee for Harvard Law School, and the Dean’s Council at the Kennedy School of Government. He previously served on the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the US Treasury Advisory Committee on International Child Labor Enforcement. He has been a board advisor to Dharma, Inc.—a data analytics platform, Luminate—an interactive image service purchased by Yahoo, and numerous non-profit organizations. Elliot holds degrees from Harvard College, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School.

Patricia Williams is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. She has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin School of Law, City University of New York Law School, and Golden Gate University School of Law. Williams was a fellow at the School of Criticism and Theory at Dartmouth College, as well as at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Williams also practiced as deputy city attorney for the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney and as staff lawyer for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

She is published widely in the areas of race, gender, law, and on other issues of legal theory and legal writing. Her books include The Alchemy of Race and Rights, The Rooster's Egg, and Seeing a ColorBlind Future: The Paradox of Race. Williams has also been a columnist for The Nation. Williams was a MacArthur fellow, and served on the board of trustees at Wellesley College. She earned her JD from Harvard Law School in 1975 and her BA from Wellesley College in 1972.

Theoretically Speaking is a lecture series highlighting exciting advances in theoretical computer science for a broad general audience. Events are held at the David Brower Center in Downtown Berkeley, and are free and open to the public. No special background is assumed.

Seating is first come, first served. Light refreshments will be served before the lecture, at 5:30 p.m.