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CMU Researchers Win NSF-Amazon Fairness in AI Awards


Mobile phone on wooden table. The screen is white with a yellow "thinking face" emoji in the center.

Three Carnegie Mellon University research teams have received funding through the Program on Fairness in Artificial Intelligence, which the National Science Foundation sponsors in partnership with Amazon. The program supports computational research focused on fairness in AI, with the goal of building trustworthy AI systems that can be deployed to tackle grand challenges facing society.

"There have been increasing concerns over biases in AI systems, for example computer vision algorithms working worse for Blacks than for other races, or ads for higher paying jobs only being shown to men," said Jason Hong, a professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). "Machine learning researchers are developing new tools and techniques to improve fairness from a quantitative perspective, but there are still many blind spots that defy pure quantification."

The CMU projects address new methods for detecting bias, translating fairness goals into public policy and increasing the diversity of people able to use systems that recognize human speech.

"Understanding how AI systems can be designed on principles of fairness, transparency and trustworthiness will advance the boundaries of AI applications," said Henry Kautz, director of the NSF's Division of Information and Intelligent Systems. "And it will help us build a more equitable society in which all citizens can be designers of these technologies as well as benefit from them."

The CMU projects selected as 2021 awardees are:

"We are excited to see NSF select an incredibly talented group of researchers whose research efforts are informed by a multiplicity of perspectives," said Prem Natarajan, vice president in Amazon's Alexa unit. "As AI technologies become more prevalent in our daily lives, AI fairness is an increasingly important area of scientific endeavor."


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