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Mechanism Design for Social Good Working Groups

Global Perspectives on Inequality

The MD4SG Inequality working group studies how optimization, incentive design, and learning can improve services for vulnerable populations, such as homeless individuals and smallholder farmers. We also study how algorithmic approaches can magnify existing inequalities, and how to design systems to guard against these effects. To address such questions, we draw on techniques from computer science, economics and operations research, as well as experience in social work and international development.


Fall 2018 Presentations

Presenter Title Abstract
Sera Linardi Jail: A Day in the Life

This talk draws from Sera's experience working with homeless and incarcerated individuals.

Ana-Andreaa Stoica Algorithmic Glass Ceiling in Social Networks As social recommendations such as friend suggestions and people to follow become increasingly popular and influential on the growth of social media, we find that prominent social recommendation algorithms can exacerbate the under-representation of certain demographic groups at the top of the social hierarchy. To study this imbalance in online equal opportunities, we leverage new Instagram data and offer for the first time an analysis that studies the effect of gender, homophily and growth dynamics under social recommendations. Our mathematical analysis demonstrates the existence of an algorithmic glass ceiling that exhibits all the properties of the metaphorical social barrier that hinders groups like women or people of color from attaining equal representation. What raises concern is that the algorithmic effect is systematically larger than the glass ceiling generated by the spontaneous growth of social networks. We discuss ways to address this concern in future design and its pervasiveness under other algorithms.

Working Group Organizer

Bryan Wilder Ph.D. Student in Computer Science University of Southern California

Working Group Members

Rediet Abebe Ph.D. Student in Computer Science Cornell University
Jerry Anunrojwong Research Affiliate MIT; Chulalongkorn University
Milan Cvitkovic Ph.D. Student in Computing & Mathematical Sciences California Insitute of Technology
Mutembesa Daniel Researcher in Artificial Intelligence & Data Science Makerere University, Uganda
Bikram Datta Assistant Professor of Economics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
Sera Linardi Associate Professor of Economics University of Pittsburgh
George Musumba Lecturer in Computer Science Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Kenya
Benjamin Otieno Senior Lecturer in Computing & Informatics University of Nairobi, Kenya
Sekou Remy Research Scientist in Health Informatics and AI IBM Africa
Eric Sodomka Research Scientist in Economics & Computer Science Facebook Research
Ana-Andreea Stoica Ph.D. Student in Computer Science Columbia University
Angela Zhou Ph.D. Student in Operations Research Cornell Tech