A monthly lecture series featuring prominent global leaders and academics sharing research in areas that are impacted by the emergence of big data.

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Theoretical Foundations of Active Machine Learning

Rob Nowak (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
E18-304

Title: Theoretical Foundations of Active Machine Learning Abstract: The field of Machine Learning (ML) has advanced considerably in recent years, but mostly in well-defined domains using huge amounts of human-labeled training data. Machines can recognize objects in images and translate text, but they must be trained with more images and text than a person can see in nearly a lifetime.  The computational complexity of training has been offset by recent technological advances, but the cost of training data is measured in…

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Causal Inference in the Age of Big Data

Jasjeet Sekhon (UC Berkeley)
E18-304

The rise of massive data sets that provide fine-grained information about human beings and their behavior offers unprecedented opportunities for evaluating the effectiveness of social, behavioral, and medical treatments. With the availability of fine-grained data, researchers and policymakers are increasingly unsatisfied with estimates of average treatment effects based on experimental samples that are unrepresentative of populations of interest. Instead, they seek to target treatments to particular populations and subgroups. Because of these inferential challenges, Machine Learning (ML) is now being…

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Automating the Digitization of Historical Data on a Large Scale

Melissa Dell (Harvard University)
E18-304

https://youtu.be/mnM7ePr6xqM Over the past two centuries, we have transitioned from an overwhelmingly agricultural world to one with vastly different patterns of economic organization. This transition has been remarkably uneven across space and time, and has important implications for some of the most central challenges facing societies today. Deepening our understanding of the determinants of economic transformation requires data on the long-run trajectories of individuals and firms. However, these data overwhelmingly remain trapped in hard copy, with cost estimates for manual…

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Does Revolution Work? Evidence from Nepal

Rohini Pande (Yale University)
E18-304

The last half century has seen the adoption of  democratic institutions in much of the developing world. However, the conditions under which de jure democratization leads to the representation of historically disadvantaged groups remains debated as do the implications of descriptive representation for policy inclusion. Using detailed administrative and survey data from Nepal, we examine political selection in a new democracy, the implications for policy inclusion and the role of conflict in affecting political transformation. I situate these findings in the context of…

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[POSTPONED] Guido Imbens – The Applied Econometrics Professor and Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

E18-304

IDSS will host Prof. Guido Imbens as part of the Distinguished Speaker Seminar series. Prof. Guido Imbens’ primary field of interest is Econometrics. Research topics in which he is interested include: causality, program evaluation, identification, Bayesian methods, semi-parametric methods, instrumental variables.

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[POSTPONED] The Blessings of Multiple Causes

David Blei (Columbia University)
E18-304

*Please note: this event has been POSTPONED until Fall 2020* See MIT’s COVID-19 policies for more details.   Title: The Blessings of Multiple Causes Abstract: Causal inference from observational data is a vital problem, but it comes with strong assumptions. Most methods require that we observe all confounders, variables that affect both the causal variables and the outcome variables. But whether we have observed all confounders is a famously untestable assumption. We describe the deconfounder, a way to do causal…

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The Ethical Algorithm

Michael Kearns (University of Pennsylvania)
online

https://youtu.be/IATv0m5U5z8 Title: The Ethical Algorithm Abstract: Many recent mainstream media articles and popular books have raised alarms over anti-social algorithmic behavior, especially regarding machine learning and artificial intelligence. The concerns include leaks of sensitive personal data by predictive models, algorithmic discrimination as a side-effect of machine learning, and inscrutable decisions made by complex models. While standard and legitimate responses to these phenomena include calls for stronger and better laws and regulations, researchers in machine learning, statistics and related areas are…

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