Nearly everyone these days imaginatively uses virtual identities such as social media profiles, e-commerce accounts, and/or videogame characters. Yet, virtual identities can reproduce discrimination and stereotypes with devastating impacts on users ranging from worse performance and engagement for students to bullying and threats of violence. If such forms of oppression persist, e.g., female virtual identity users being threatened online, surely we must go advance our understanding of the roles these technologies play in society and how to design them to better suit diverse social needs. In this talk, Harrell presents some of the outcomes from his 5-year National Science Foundation-supported research initiative called the Advanced Identity Representation project. Namely, applying approaches from artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and sociology to technologies such as videogames and social media, his research both reveals social biases in existing systems and implements systems to respond to those biases with greater nuance and expressive power.
D. Fox Harrell is an Associate Professor of Digital Media at MIT in the Comparative Media Studies Program and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He founded and directs the MIT Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE Lab). He was a 2014-15 recipient of the Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellowship in Communication and fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.