May 2022: Tutorial Talk

Dirk Hovy and Anne Lauscher (Bocconi University, Milan): Ethical Issues in NLP

Date: 9. Mai 2022 -- Language: English --
Title: Ethical Issues in NLP — A kind introduction and the special case of pronouns

Natural Language Processing is one of the core areas of artificial intelligence. Currently, the majority of the research efforts in this area are mostly opting for better performance on major benchmarks and downstream tasks. However, it is vital to acknowledge that eventually, these systems will be deployed in a concrete sociotechnical environment, and, thus, their development and their decisions will directly or indirectly affect individuals and more generally, society as a whole.
For instance, NLP systems are prone to encode and amplify unfair stereotypes and often simply fail to adequately represent terms referring to minority groups, which might lead to further discrimination of marginalised individuals. This talk will deal with these issues and is divided in two parts: (1) In the first part, Prof. Dirk Hovy will give a tutorial on general ethical issues around NLP systems. Concretely, he will introduce you to important concepts and outline on potential sources of discrimination along the machine learning pipeline. (2) As a concrete example, in the second part, Dr. Anne Lauscher will discuss their latest research centering around the current modeling of 3rd person pronouns in NLP.

ca. 16:00 - 17:00 “Five sources of bias in NLP — and what to do about them" by Prof. Dirk Hovy

— 5 minute break —

ca. 17:05 - 17:45 “What about em?" by Dr. Anne Lauscher

Dirk Hovy is associate professor of computer science at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Before that, he was faculty and a postdoc in Copenhagen, got a PhD from USC, and a linguistics masters in Germany. He is interested in the interaction between language, society, and machine learning, or what language can tell us about society, and what computers can tell us about language. He has authored over 50 articles on these topics, including 3 best paper awards. He has organized one conference and several workshops (on abusive language, ethics in NLP, and computational social science). Outside of work, Dirk enjoys cooking, running, and leather-crafting. For updated information, see
Anne Lauscher is a postdoctoral researcher in the Natural Language Processing group at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, where she is working on introducing demographic factors into language processing systems to improve algorithmic performance and system fairness. She obtained her Ph.D., awarded with the highest honors, from the Data and Web Science group at the University of Mannheim, Germany, where her research focused on the interplay between language representations and computational argumentation. During her studies, she also interned at and became an independent research contractor for Grammarly Inc. and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Her research got published at top-tier international venues in Natural Language Processing and AI. Most recently, she received the Maria Gräfin von Linden-Award in life sciences/ STEM, which honors excellent female researchers in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.