Bias is an important topic in general. It is of special significance to a research organization. Issues of bias being built into models that are beginning to play significant roles in society and economy are coming to the forefront of public discourse. So we decided to talk about this topic at a Journal Club. Colleagues from University of Moratuwa’s DataSearch also attended.
As part of our big data work, we’ve been thinking about the opacity of the algorithms we use. The pretty picture and tables that result from the research are persuasive, but if people wanted to know how they were derived, it would not be easy to explain. But then, we have to always think about the alternative. A method may be familiar and may have been used for decades if not centuries. But that does not necessarily make it fair.
Few days back, I had a Twitter exchange with a journalist about news. "More than one-sixteenth of the average user’s waking time is spent on Facebook" https://t.co/mLtxgxcbc2 — Rohan Samarajiva (@samarajiva) May 7, 2016 @ChandaniKirinde Primary srce of news for 18-24 grp in #LKA WP is Facebook, acc repre survey. Unless u consdr news unproductive . .
Hernan Galperin from DIRSI had organized a session entitled Data for development: the good, the bad and the ugly. Martin Hilbert was originally featured as the star speaker who would tell the audience about the wonders of big data. Well, he did not turn up. So it was left to LIRNEasia, where we actually get our hands dirty analyzing big data of relevance to our primary clients, the poor of the developing world, to talk about big data. The slides are here.
In a major win for think tanks seeking to bring evidence to the policy process in developing countries, the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa, by its decision The Competition Commission of South Africa v TELKOM (Case No: 623/2008), has unequivocally overruled the claims of bias leveled against the LINK Centre, then headed by our colleague Alison Gillwald (now heading Research ICTs Africa). In addition to getting its odd argument rejected, Telkom will have to pay a 3.7 Billion Rand fine plus costs. Ouch! Alison is the featured dinner speaker at CPRsouth4 in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on December 7th.